Connecticut Medical Malpractice Laws
Each state has their own set of medical malpractice laws in place, and it is important for patients to understand those laws and how they could affect their case. The following are the basics of the laws in Connecticut.
Like every other state, US Constitutional law permits each state to delegate and legislate the majority of legal disputes per state-specific statutes relevant legally only to a given state jurisdiction and those medical malpractice claims falling under said given state jurisdiction.
One facet of American law that sees ample variability is in the practice area of medical malpractice tort law, in which state laws, rules, statutes, and procedures will greatly vary from state to state, with jurisdictional considerations remaining unclear in certain instances of medical malpractice cases. Ultimately, legal counsel alongside ample evidence provided by the aggrieved patient is the most reliable route towards recovering any semblance of a favorable medical malpractice settlement or jury award.
Connecticut State Medical Malpractice Law
The following article seeks to cover those cornerstone elements of Connecticut medical malpractice law that are most likely to influence or impact a patient’s medical negligence claims case. As always, only legal counsel in light of highly case-specific information can make a determination on the merit and relative possibility of recovery in a given claims case predicated on a cause of action for medical negligence in Connecticut.
Statutes of Limitation Applicable to Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filings under Connecticut’s Legal Jurisdiction
In Connecticut’s General Statutes 52-584, the medical malpractice statutes of limitations applicable to any type of personal injury lawsuit or claims case in Connecticut, including medical malpractice related causes of action and claims of medical professional negligence, require that patient’s file suit by no later than two (2) years after the date of the suspected incident of medical negligence causing injuries has occurred. Additionally, the state of Connecticut’s medical negligence statutes also imposes a statute of repose on all claims cases pertaining tort claims following three (3) years after an alleged incident entailing professional negligence occurred.
In short, once the statutes of limitation in Connecticut tolls, patients, unfortunately, face the likely outcome of a total loss of the ability to recover damages in the event of medical negligence causing harm to the patient. Under Connecticut law, no tort claims case can be considered viable with merit if more than three (3) years from the date of the act or of the discovery of medical negligence as the proximate cause of demonstrable damages. Moreover, under Connecticut’s statutes of limitation about medical malpractice cases, minors and those individuals viewed by the courts as incapable of participating effectively in the legal process due to cognitive handicaps or other reasons, incur vastly different statutes of limitation regarding filing suit for medical malpractice under Connecticut law.
Wrongful Death and Medical Negligence Cases under Connecticut Tort Law
Under Connecticut’s statutes relating to wrongful death lawsuits filed by aggrieved family members and other vested parties of interest, claimants in the event of a wrongful death ostensibly caused by medical negligence have only two (2) years to file against potentially liable parties on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
Connecticut Adheres to A Modified Comparative Negligence Standard in Medical Malpractice Cases
Per Connecticut’s General Statute 52-527h, claims cases involving allegations of medical negligence involving multiple negligent parties are required to adhere to a modified comparative negligence standard framework, in which defendants and plaintiffs are both proportionally liable for the total damages amount comparable and proportional to the assigned degree of fault in a given medical malpractice case. In certain instances, claims cases resulting in the plaintiff being held predominantly liable for his or her injuries vis a vis all other liable parties, recovery of damages may be restricted, if not prevented under Connecticut medical malpractice law.
Several Liability Laws under Medical Malpractice in Connecticut
The state of Connecticut uses a type of modified several liabilities, which in turn, holds that the joint defendants are only severally liable. A patient in a Connecticut malpractice lawsuit does have the right to seek relief from the court within one (1) year of the final judgment of a given claims case, however, only if a portion of the original judgment remains uncompensated. The state also has the right of contribution to ensure that defendants are not held unrealistically responsible or liable for exacerbating or aggravating medical injuries, thus potentially drastically reducing damage awards, of not in place under Connecticut’s medical malpractice statutes.
No Vicarious Liability in Connecticut Expressly Permitted
In the state, there are no vicarious liability statutes that would indubitably force liability onto hospital facilities to negligently practicing medical professionals, albeit typically on an independent contractor basis. However, the courts will usually take on the question of whether a hospital or another entity is truly, in fact, liable for damages sustained by a patient on a case-by-case basis, as it has occurred in the past under Connecticut case law.
Proving Medical Professional Negligence and Filing Suit in Connecticut Requires Expert Testimony
In Connecticut, patients, and their legal counsel will loosely begin a claims case predicated on the professional assessment and testimony of a qualified medical expert as to whether medical negligence did in facto occur in a given patient’s case. The only material caveat to the medical expert witness testimony requirement under Connecticut law are those relating to the non-necessity of patients having sustained injuries under a context that no reasonable individual would otherwise dispute as negligent, if not reckless and grossly negligent.
The State of Connecticut Does Not Employ Hard Damage Caps in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Connecticut is one of the states that do not have a cap statutorily constraining a number of damages that a patient can recover in a medical malpractice case. The punitive damages will be limited to the litigation expenses of the plaintiff minus the taxable costs. However, in the favor of patients and plaintiffs, attorney fees in Connecticut for cases handled on contingency basis face caps of one-third of the damage award up to $300,000, with one quarter of the damage award above $300,000 but beneath $600,000 allotted by law as the most recoverable by legal counsel, with subsequent increments of $300,000 in damage awards to the plaintiff resulted in a graduated cap on legal counsel award recovery, with counsel only entitled to ten (10%) percent of awards in excess of 1.2 million dollars. However, under 52-228c, a judicial remittitur clause in Connecticut’s statutory law dictates that non-economic damage awards more than seven-figures be subject to court review pending the applicability and severe security towards the potential of the amount of the verdict being considered excessive.
The state uses a type of modified several liability, which means that the joint defendants are only severally liable. The patient does have the right to seek relief from the court within a year of the final judgment if a portion of that judgment has not been satisfied. The state also has the right of contribution to ensure that defendants do not have to pay more than their share for a judgment based on their contribution to the injury.
No Vicarious Liability
In the state, there are no vicarious liability statutes that would place liability on the hospitals for doctors that are independently contracted. However, the courts will usually take this on a case-by-case basis, as it has occurred in the past.
Is Expert Testimony Required?
In Connecticut, patients and the defense will need to have expert testimony that will establish the negligence. The only time that a case will not need to have expert witnesses is when the negligence is so obvious that there is no question of whether the medical professionals were acting carelessly.
What Are the Damage Caps?
Connecticut is one of the states that do not have a cap on the amount of damages that a patient is able to recover during a medical malpractice case. The punitive damages will be limited to the litigation expenses of the plaintiff minus the taxable costs.
Most of the time, the attorney fees in Connecticut are capped at 33 1/3% for the first $300,000, 25% for the next $300,000, 20% for the following $300,000, 15% for the next $300,000, and 10% for anything that is greater than a $1.2 million.
Damages that are up to $200,000 need to be paid in a lump sum, and the payment for those damages in excess of that amount will need to be agreed upon by both parties.
Patients who are hoping to recover damages with a medical malpractice case in Connecticut should make sure to get in touch with an attorney experienced in the field.