2011 Connecticut Code
Title 52 Civil Actions
Chapter 925 Statutory Rights of Action and Defenses
Sec. 52-555. Actions for injuries resulting in death.

      Sec. 52-555. Actions for injuries resulting in death. (a) In any action surviving to or brought by an executor or administrator for injuries resulting in death, whether instantaneous or otherwise, such executor or administrator may recover from the party legally at fault for such injuries just damages together with the cost of reasonably necessary medical, hospital and nursing services, and including funeral expenses, provided no action shall be brought to recover such damages and disbursements but within two years from the date of death, and except that no such action may be brought more than five years from the date of the act or omission complained of.

      (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, an action may be brought under this section at any time after the date of the act or omission complained of if the party legally at fault for such injuries resulting in death has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of a violation of section 53a-54a, 53a-54b, 53a-54c, 53a-54d, 53a-55 or 53a-55a with respect to such death.

      (1949 Rev., 8296; 1949, 1951, S. 3230d; 1957, P.A. 532; 1969, P.A. 401, S. 1; P.A. 91-238, S. 1, 2; P.A. 99-42; P.A. 00-200, S. 8.)

      History: 1969 act changed deadline for bringing action from one year from date injury is sustained or discovered or should have been discovered to two years from that date, effective October 1, 1969, and applicable only to injuries first sustained on or after that date; P.A. 91-238 required that action be brought within two years of death or within five years of act or omission complained of rather than within two years of date of injury or discovery of injury or within three years of act or omission complained of, effective October 1, 1991, and applicable only to injuries first sustained on or after that date; P.A. 99-42 designated existing provisions as Subsec. (a) and added Subsec. (b) eliminating time limitation in certain homicide cases; P.A. 00-200 amended Subsec. (b) by adding references to Secs. 53a-55 and 53a-55a.

      See Sec. 45a-448 re distribution of damages recovered for injuries resulting in death.

      See Sec. 52-584 re limitation of action for injury to person or property.

      See Sec. 52-594 re time limit for executor or administrator to bring personal action which survives to deceased person's representatives.

      No action lay at common law for causing death. 25 C. 272. Right of recovery in general; 24 C. 577; 69 C. 284; 72 C. 617; 73 C. 616; 77 C. 111; 87 C. 337; action begun by injured person in lifetime survives, not restricted to death from negligence; 87 C. 301; action lies for death in another state; 83 C. 278; statute is not penal; 33 C. 246; it prevents any suit for the benefit of deceased's estate generally. 34 C. 58. Action lies for instantaneous death; 30 C. 187; 69 C. 620; 72 C. 616; and substantial damages may be given. 73 C. 616; 99 C. 6. Administration proper to enforce right, though there is no estate. 36 C. 214. The law presumes that there are heirs; effect. 64 C. 482; 69 C. 272; 71 C. 286. Under former statute, sum named was limitation, not measure, of damages. 85 C. 117. Purpose of statute is not to penalize, but to give just damages. 87 C. 472. Elements and rule of damage. 29 C. 496; 33 C. 56; 61 C. 159; 72 C. 617; 73 C. 620; 75 C. 548; Id., 571; 79 C. 367; 83 C. 278; 90 C. 35; 92 C. 678; 95 C. 117; 103 C. 530; 106 C. 330; 123 C. 302; 132 C. 466. Omission to charge as to limitation not error. 87 C. 149. Necessary averments in action. 33 C. 247. Effect of default by defendant. 33 C. 252; 36 C. 155. Delay in taking out administration does not extend time limit; 90 C. 527; but the provisions of section 52-592 apply. 91 C. 395; 102 C. 69. Negligence of statutory distributees is no defense. 78 C. 284. Not necessary to count on statute in complaint; applies whether death is instantaneous or not. 99 C. 6. Limit of damage covers all expenses prior to death as well as loss to estate. 103 C. 529; 106 C. 338. New York statute enforceable in our courts. 108 C. 445. No bar to action that heirs at law are the defendants. Id., 649. Does not permit recovery of damages for death resulting from breach of implied warranty. 115 C. 253. History of this statute. Id., 255; 122 C. 95. Whether action for death due to highway defect falls within this section, quaere. Id. Employer obligated to pay compensation to deceased employee's dependents is entitled to apportionment under section 31-293 of damages recovered by administratrix from third person. 116 C. 92. Statute applies in action to recover damages for death against physician for malpractice. 127 C. 380. Does not create new cause of action; administratrix of father may not sue unemancipated minor son. 129 C. 518. Cited. 111 C. 336; 127 C. 692; 131 C. 130; 142 C. 84. This section is not limited or modified by section 45-210 so as to postpone the beginning of the one-year period. 134 C. 382. Cited. 143 C. 653. Basic principles underlying act; assessment of damages. 144 C. 659. Distinguished from section 52-599. Id. Computation of actuarial expectancy of child. 145 C. 622. Extensive discussion of rule for measuring damages. 146 C. 114. In such an action the administrator does not act in his true capacity as administrator for the benefit of the estate but as agent or trustee for those beneficially interested. 147 C. 233. Proceeds do not become general assets of the estate. Id. Right of action for wrongful death and that for nonfatal personal injuries rest on substantially the same basis. Id., 649. Administrator of unemancipated minor may sue her unemancipated minor sister for wrongful death. Id. Damages for death and its direct consequences are recoverable only if, and to the extent that, they are made so by statute. 153 C. 360. Cited. Id., 633. Plaintiff stands in shoes of decedent and can recover only if he, had his injuries not proved fatal, could himself have recovered. 154 C. 432. As executor, plaintiff is empowered to sue for injuries resulting in decedent's death whether his appointment issued from a court in this state or in a foreign jurisdiction. 156 C. 115. Admission in evidence of hearsay statements by defendant's driver, although made in presence of plaintiff's decedent on date of accident, was reversible error. 159 C. 307. Injuries resulting in death held not to constitute medical malpractice. 170 C. 443. Cited. Id., 637. Cited. 183 C. 448. Cited. 187 C. 53. Cited. 192 C. 280; Id., 327. Cited. 196 C. 134; Id., 509. Suit under this section not barred by workers' compensation act where minor killed while illegally employed. 203 C. 34. Permits a recovery of death damages only by decedent's estate. Claim for loss of ante mortem consortium distinguished from claim for loss of post mortem consortium. Id., 187. Three-year limitation is a jurisdictional prerequisite which must be met to maintain action under the statute and cannot be waived. Statute does not violate Conn. Const. Art. I, Sec. 10. 205 C. 219. "Intent is not an essential element of the cause of action." 206 C. 229. Cited. 208 C. 392. Cited. 209 C. 59. Cited. 210 C. 175; Id., 721. Cited. 212 C. 415. Cited. 213 C. 282. Cited. 221 C. 346. Cited. 226 C. 282. Elements of wrongful death cause of action under section discussed. 267 C. 539.

      Cited. 3 CA 598. Cited. 43 CA 294. Cited. 44 CA 172. An executor who brings an action under this section does so in his representative, fiduciary capacity, not as an individual plaintiff, and because it is not his own cause of action, he has no right to self-representation under Sec. 51-88(d)(2). 118 CA 211.

      Limitation held applicable to recovery under section allowing action for death or injury against highway commissioner. 1 CS 136. History of section reviewed. Id; 11 CS 117. Action to be brought one year after "the neglect complained of" and not from date of death. 4 CS 32. Applicable to action where death results from malpractice of a physician. 6 CS 450. Cited. 7 CS 328. Cited. 9 CS 184. Statute does not limit the number of parties that can be sued. 10 CS 396. Proviso is not a true statute of limitations but a condition precedent to the actual ripening of a complete right of action. 11 CS 239. Parent has no cause of action to recover for loss of services of child wrongfully killed. Id., 447. Fact that person injured died more than a year after injury immaterial where original complaint was brought within statutory period. Id., 413; Id., 468. Cited. 16 CS 430. Cited. 17 CS 3. Covers both antemortem elements of damage such as pain and suffering and also for injuries resulting in death. 19 CS 487. Connecticut's wrongful death statute compared with that of North Carolina, which is based on Lord Campbell's Act. 21 CS 233. Where prenatal injuries result in death, the personal representative of the child may prosecute an action. It makes no difference whether death took place just after birth or just prior to birth. 23 CS 256. Stillborn infant, dead from injuries sustained as a viable fetus, has a cause of action. 26 CS 358. Connecticut follows the "survival" rather than the "new cause of action" theory. Id., 358. Damages for antemortem injuries, though required to be claimed in same action as damages for death, do not depend on this section but on section 52-599, which provides that decedent's cause of action survives to his personal representative. Where one year period of limitation with respect to those injuries had not expired when decedent died, his personal representative, under section 52-594, had year from date of death to initiate action. 28 CS 461. Wrongful death action must be brought by executor or administrator to have standing. Standing acquired subsequent to statute of limitations does not cure original action. 29 CS 139. Amendment to complaint not deemed instituting new cause of action so as to be barred by section but was amplification and expansion not change of facts originally claimed. 35 CS 38. Wrongful death action is not a new and independent action created by the demise of the injured party, but rather a claim of the deceased party which survives his death. Therefore the decedent's spouse can attach to the wrongful death claim an independent claim for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is now legally recoverable under "just damages". Consortium is an element of a marital relationship and cannot be extended to the children of the marriage. Id., 292. Cited. 37 CS 1. Cited. 38 CS 318. Damages for loss of consortium are not recoverable under this statute, which compensates losses suffered only by decedent or his estate. 39 CS 8. Cited. 40 CS 95. Read together with Secs. 45-249c and 45-249d(a) "executor or administrator" is interpreted to include a temporary administrator to be allowed to commence wrongful death action when necessary to preserve estate. Id., 451. Cited. Id., 457. Cited. 44 CS 477. Administratrix may maintain action for wrongful death on behalf of a viable unborn fetus for injuries and death. 48 CS 440.

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