workers' compensation benefits

Statute of Limitations on Catastrophic Injury Claims in Connecticut

In General

Providing a general answer to questions about statutes of limitations is complicated because it depends not only upon the type of case, but also on the presence of special circumstances that may affect the time period. With that said, there is generally a two-year statute of limitations for negligence cases in Connecticut. If you are dealing with a product liability case or a defective product, then the standard time period is three years. There are exceptions to the time periods that require consultation and guidance at an early juncture. For example, there might be a two-year statute of limitations for a medical negligence case in Connecticut, but if it involves a physician who is employed by the state or a medical facility owned and operated by the state, then there is a period of one year within which you must file certain notifications and the law suit.

Similarly, you may have two years to bring a case in court, but there are often earlier written notification requirements that apply. A typical example would be a claim involving a defective highway or street owned and maintained by a government entity, the state, or a municipality. There are also some exceptions involving the service of alcohol by a liquor establishment or restaurant.

One of the guiding recommendations pertinent to the statute of limitations is not waiting long after your accident before engaging legal counsel. There needs to be an immediate assessment of the parties to be notified and a close tracking of the statute of limitations and relevant notice deadlines.

In certain instances, you may not be able to bring a case, even if you are injured and have the assistance of an attorney. Careful consideration and a degree of due diligence is required in evaluating the merits of a case. This includes gathering evidence, interviewing people, and oftentimes getting the opinion of an expert before one has a good faith basis to proceed with a case. Even if you have recognized a statute of limitations that is expiring, if you do not have a good faith basis or believe that you can prove your case, it may not be prudent or ethical to proceed.

If you want to bring a claim against a healthcare facility or physician in Connecticut, you must first have an opinion by a similarly situated health care provider stating that medical negligence likely occurred. If you do not have this independent medical opinion when you file the case, then your case can be dismissed.

If you come to a lawyer too late in the process and they do not have the opportunity to complete their investigation to undertake due diligence, then they may not be able to file the case for you. Deadlines may have passed, evidence may have been lost or disappeared, or witnesses may have forgotten the events. There are many reasons to quickly obtain a competent lawyer and ensure that your rights are protected.

In Summary

As discussed, the statute of limitations for catastrophic life altering injuries is going to be based on the particular circumstances of a case and then determined by statute. There is a statue in Connecticut that applies to medical negligence cases and gives a party the right to an extra 90 days if the two-year statute of limitations is about to run out. The extension has to be filed in court before the two years expires. Clearly, when you have someone who is incompetent, incapable, or deceased and cannot assert their own rights, a legal relative or responsible party should contact an attorney.

The lawyer will evaluate and advise on the statute of limitations, and get the required notices filed. A responsible representative needs to be thinking about helping the family or the individual locate and obtain proper representation at the earliest possible moment.

To learn more about statute of limitations on catastrophic injury claims in Connecticut and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: Book PDF Download

Factors that can Lead a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case to Litigation

Reasons for Litigation

For a variety of reasons, it is a common outcome for personal injury and wrongful death cases to end up in litigation. Often, this is to learn more about what happened and to secure evidence that the lawyer or client does not have in their possession. It can sometimes take instituting a lawsuit for such evidence to arise. In the absence of subpoena powers and the ability to conduct depositions and discovery, you often will not have a full picture of what happened. Not having all of the evidence bears tremendously on liability issues in the absence of the litigation process, which can be unpleasant and lengthy.

Without this process, it’s just too easy for an insurance company or the person in the position of decision-making authority to say “No, we don’t think we are at fault,” or “We are not going to pay that much.” You can only attempt to discuss what would be a just resolution for your case and what would be an appropriate valuation of the case outside of the court process. It is easy for a business decision maker (oftentimes an insurance adjuster) to try to save money for their client. If the insurance company is going to offer anything, it is ultimately left to the injured party to value the case.

Roles of Insurance Companies

Insurance companies typically have a value called an insurance reserve, which holds for both life altering injuries and death cases. They will put a value on a case that they do not share with you or your lawyer. They assess a case, and then modify the assessment until a case is settled. One of the goals of the litigation process is to have them increase the assessment in the reserve. That initial figure – whether you negotiate, attend a pretrial settlement conference or attend mediation later on – will be at the forefront of the authority that the insurance company’s lawyer is going to have.

Why Qualified Representation is Important

If a lawyer underworked a case by failing to employ the right resources, collect certain evidence, or take certain depositions, then they have failed to take the necessary steps to properly work the case. A failure to take those steps could have a strong impact on the offer they receive in a case. When underprepared, attorneys could be “playing against the reserve.” The defense decision-makers are going to try to save the insurance company money – this is a reality of the system. If you are pro se (self-represented), or if you have an under-skilled or inexperienced lawyer, you can lose money on the case. It is about properly identifying issues and mapping out a course, both of which should begin at the intake interview. Even though it might result in a lawsuit being filed down the road, the process is and should be started very early.

 

To learn more about navigating the factors that can lead to litigation in a personal injury or wrongful death case, as well as other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: Book PDF

Injury and Wrongful Death Case Valuation in CT

HOW IS A CATASTROPHIC INJURY OR WRONGFUL DEATH CASE VALUED IN CONNECTICUT?

When dealing with a life altering case, valuing all compensable damages is a traditional starting point. Compensable damages generally include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future medical expenses
  • Future impact to an individual’s earning capacity

Navigating injured parties through the process is a vital responsibility of the attorney. As a result of this involvement, attorneys develop the issues of compensable damages, with the end result being to properly and sufficiently monetize the case for the catastrophically injured individual.

How Long Does a Life Altering Injury Claim Take to Settle?

There are many variables to consider when determining how long it will take for a life altering injury claim to settle. The length of time is often dictated by the time it takes for the injured party to complete medical treatment. If the individual is deceased, then it will depend on the length of time necessary to collect, evaluate, and properly address all the issues to formulate the damages profile.

The length of a claim can also depend on the docket or the court. The courts dictate how long these things take when a case is in suit. Most cases will settle or go to trial no earlier than 18 months and could take many years. Though the range is wide, one and a half to three years is the general timeframe for most cases.

Possible Outcomes for Life Altering Injury Cases

The American Bar Association and their subcommittees have conducted studies on life altering injury cases, and there are various trial lawyers associations that track injury cases (some of which go to trial, and some of which end up settling). For over a decade, there has been a seeming trend away from trials. This is happening for a variety of reasons. Cases are diverted to settlement measures – such as arbitration or mediation – to bring about a resolution of the case. The cases that go to trial are the ones that cannot be resolved, despite all early discussions and court intervention. These are cases where the parties’ positions are just too far apart, and it is the only way to resolve the dispute.  There are many instances in highly disputed cases where the advocates on each side of the controversy will see the case quite differently. As the case litigation proceeds and as the issues become clearer, there is usually an opportunity to explore an agreement. The fact is that most people would rather make their own decisions about settlement than have a judge or jury do it for them.

The uncertainty of what a judge or a jury may do with a dispute also supports the general inclination of most individuals and companies to sort out their own business relations, where they can achieve what they believe to be a reasonable result. These factors working together often determine the probability of going to trial.

It is estimated that less than 10 percent of cases go to trial. However, if you do not prepare a case – whether straightforward or complex – with sufficient care and energy, and if the attorney that you retain does not convey the complete intent to go trial on your behalf, then the odds of going to trial increase. The parties must prepare for the worst and hope for the best. By preparing to go to trial, you are reducing the chances that you will have to.

Please follow the link for access to a free pdf download of our full book to learn more about:

  • How do I know when it is the right time to settle?
  • How do I know if an injury claim offer from an insurance company is fair?
  • What happens if a catastrophic injury victim dies after filing a personal injury lawsuit?

Life Altering Personal Injury Cases in Connecticut: Free PDF