The basics of medical malpractice lawsuits in Connecticut

Connecticut has several requirements when it comes to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, there were 133 medical malpractice payments made to victims in Connecticut in 2014. A number of those were multimillion dollar awards.

These lawsuits are an essential part of securing the compensation people need to move forward following an act of medical negligence. Anyone who suffers an injury or illness at the hands of a medical professional or facility should know the state's laws governing these claims.

What constitutes medical malpractice?

Medical facilities and staff owe a duty of care to the patients they serve. When there is a deviation from that care, it could result in an injury or otherwise worsened condition. This is known as medical malpractice, and it can happen in a number of ways. For example, a doctor could fail to diagnose someone's illness or administer the wrong medication. A surgeon could operate on the wrong body part or a nurse could fail to respond to a patient's faltering vital signs. In each of these circumstances, the victim may be able to prove that medical negligence took place.

How soon must I file a claim?

In Connecticut, the law states that plaintiffs must file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of the time the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. There is also a statute of repose that mandates that lawsuits are initiated within three years of the date of the incident. However, the law does provide for some leeway with these deadlines when a physician has a continuing duty to warn the patient of malpractice.

What damages are available?

A medical negligence claim can recover compensation for a number of expenses and losses, including the following:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional losses
  • Medical bills
  • Missed wages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

In rare cases, a court could award punitive damages. These are monetary awards given to a plaintiff with the strict intention of punishing a defendant for extraordinary negligence.

What are the components of a successful claim?

One of the first tasks the plaintiff's attorney must complete is to file a certificate that shows there are grounds for a good faith belief that the defendant committed some type of negligence. The law states that this must be submitted with a written letter of opinion from a health care provider who is similar to the defendant in his or her medical background. Failure to obtain this letter could result in the dismissal of a claim.

Further, the plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant had the plaintiff under his or her care, that the defendant strayed from the standard of care, and also that the deviation caused the plaintiff's injuries. A successful lawsuit will also clearly illustrate the damages the plaintiff suffered.

Securing compensation can mean the difference between overcoming the injury and enduring additional financial stressors. Anyone who has questions regarding this issue should speak to a personal injury attorney in Connecticut.