Negligence Law Proposal passes in Connecticut

Senate Bill 1028 which was under a fiery battle between lawyers and doctors finally passed a heavily lobbied bill that would extend the time frame for people who were injured as children to file negligence lawsuits.

The Bill will allow these people who are 18 years or older to file a personal injury claim when they were minors and were unable to sue in their own name. The bill would give them the right to sue for damages caused by negligence, reckless misconduct and medical malpractice. See Section 1 (a).

More specifically, the Bill repealed section 52-584 of the general statutes substituting as follows:

“(a) No action to recover damages for injury to the person, or to real or personal property, caused by negligence, or by reckless or wanton misconduct, or by malpractice of a physician, surgeon, dentist, podiatrist, chiropractor, hospital or sanatorium, shall be brought but within two years from the date when the injury is first sustained or discovered or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been discovered, and except that no such action may be brought more than three years from the date of the act or omission complained of, except that a counterclaim may be interposed in any such action any time before the pleadings in such action are finally closed.

(b) Notwithstanding the time limitation to bring an action under subsection (a) of this , if a person entitled to bring such an action, other than for the recovery of real property or a penalty or forfeiture, is unable to bring such action because such person is under eighteen years of age on the date the cause of action accrued, such person may bring such action within one year from the date such person attains eighteen years of age, except that no such action may be brought more than eight years from the date of the act or omission complained of.” [1]

The bill will be effective October 1, 2015 and shall be applicable to all cases pending and filed on or after the said date.

When the Bill was proposed initially, the medical society, physicians and hospitals mobilized against it. President of the Connecticut Medical Society, Henry Jacobs raised a concern that “[t]here is little doubt that … Senate Bill 1028 … will worsen the medical practice climate in Connecticut.”

On the other hand, lawyers were backing the bill. Mike Walsh, an attorney practicing in West Hartford and the past President of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association considered this to be “an important bill”. On further emphasis upon the statute of limitations, if the parents chose not to pursue a claim and the statute of limitation expires, then the child is left with no option to file a claim even after turning into an adult.

Walsh stated that Connecticut is the only state that does not extend the statute of limitations for childhood injuries and backed it by calling it a matter of fairness. The Bill passed on May 14, 2015 is likely to be advantageous for people to be able to sue for the wrongs committed to them at a time when they were unable to do so.

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