Connecticut Personal Injury Laws & Liability Rules

If you've been injured in an accident in Connecticut, make sure you understand these rules before you start your personal injury case.

By , Attorney

You've been injured in Connecticut by someone else's negligent (careless) behavior, and you're thinking of filing a personal injury (PI) insurance claim or lawsuit. But like most people, you don't know much about the laws and rules that apply.

How long do you have to file a case in Connecticut court? How do you start a lawsuit? What happens if you were partly to blame for the accident?

We'll take you through the basics of Connecticut PI law, including:

  • how long you have to file a PI lawsuit in court
  • where and how you file a lawsuit
  • what happens to your case if you were partly to blame for the accident, and
  • whether Connecticut has "caps" (limits) on the compensation you can get in a PI claim.

Connecticut's Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits

A "statute of limitations" is a law that limits how long you have to file a lawsuit in court. Connecticut has several statutes of limitations that apply to different kinds of PI cases. We'll start with the general rule, then we'll take a look at some special rules and exceptions that might apply in particular cases and situations.

General Rule: Two Years From the Date of Injury

A suit for "injury to the person…caused by negligence…or by malpractice of a [health care provider or] hospital" must be filed within two years. The clock starts running on the date "the injury is first sustained or discovered or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been discovered… ."

Regardless of whether (or when) you discover your injury, you can't file a lawsuit later than three years from "the date of the act or omission complained of… ." (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-584 (2023).)

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

What does this statute mean? Most personal injury claims are caused by negligence. As a general rule, then, most personal injury and medical malpractice cases must be filed in court within two years from the later of:

  • the date you're injured, or
  • the date you discovered, or should have discovered, you were injured.

But the latest you can file a lawsuit is three years after the "act or omission" that caused your injury—the date of the accident, event, or malpractice itself.

An Example

Here's a quick example. On June 1, 2021, you had surgery to repair a hernia. All seemed fine until late June of 2022, when you began to feel abdominal pain. On July 15, 2022, you went to your family doctor because the abdominal pain wouldn't go away. An X-ray taken that day showed that the surgeon negligently left a surgical sponge inside you during your surgery.

What's the latest date you can file a malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon? You discovered your injury on July 15, 2022. Under the two-year general rule, you'd have until July 15, 2024, to file. But remember that the latest date you can file is three years from the date of the malpractice, which was June 1, 2021. You must file your lawsuit no later than June 1, 2024.

(Learn more about Connecticut medical malpractice lawsuits.)

Other Laws and Rules for Specific Cases

Connecticut has specific statutes of limitations for many different kinds of cases. Here are a few (but not all) that apply to personal injury claims.

Injuries Caused by Dangerous Products

If you were hurt by a dangerous product, as a rule, you must file your lawsuit—called a "product liability lawsuit"—within three years from the date you first suffered, discovered, or should have discovered that the product caused "injury, death or property damage… ." In some circumstances, you might have longer than three years. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577a (2023).)

Injuries Resulting in Death

When a person's injuries cause death, the victim's estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years from the date of death. Sometimes, injuries might not cause death right away. In that event, a wrongful death suit must be filed within five years from the date of the act or omission that eventually caused the death. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-555(a) (2023).)

(Learn more about Connecticut wrongful death cases.)

Injuries Caused by Intentional Acts

If your injury was caused by an intentional tort—deliberate misconduct that causes some injury or harm—you must file a lawsuit "within three years from the date of the act or omission complained of." (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577 (2023).)

Injuries Caused by Defamation

A defamation lawsuit has to be filed within two years from the date of the defamatory statement. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-597 (2023).)

Exceptions to the Statutes of Limitations

Connecticut law has several exceptions to the statutes of limitations. Here are some (but not all) of them.

Absence From Connecticut

If the party who's responsible for your injuries leaves Connecticut, the statute of limitations clock doesn't run during the time—up to a maximum of seven years—they're absent from the state. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-590 (2023).)

Fraudulent Concealment of Injury

If a party who's responsible for your injury fraudulently conceals facts from you that would alert you to your claim, the applicable statute of limitations as to that party doesn't start to run until you discover your claim. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-595 (2023).)

Special Notice and Time Requirements for Certain Claims

Under Connecticut law, certain claims are subject to special notice requirements. These notice requirements are time sensitive, meaning you must give the required notice within a deadline. Typically, the notice deadline is much shorter than the applicable statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.

Most of these notice requirements are a precondition to filing a lawsuit in court. That is, if you fail to timely provide the required notice, you're probably prohibited from filing a lawsuit, at least as to the party to whom notice must be given. If you're thinking about bringing a lawsuit in a case with special notice requirements, you should hire experienced counsel to handle the case for you.

Here are some (but not all) of the claims with special notice requirements.

Claims Against the State of Connecticut

There are several notice requirements for claims and lawsuits against the State of Connecticut.

Injuries Caused by Buildings, Parks, or Grounds

If you're injured because of "the defective condition of a building, park or ground owned or leased by the state," you must notify the official in control or the agency using the property "within a reasonable time" after your injury. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-146 (2023).)

Claims Caused by Highways or Sidewalks

A lawsuit for injuries caused by a state highway, bridge, or sidewalk must be filed within two years from the date you were injured. But before you can sue, you must give the Commissioner of Transportation written notice of your claim within 90 days after your injury. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 13a-144 (2023).)

Injuries Generally—Not Covered by Other Laws

If you want to sue the state, in most cases you must first give Connecticut's Office of Claims Commissioner written notice of your claim. The notice must include the information (and be accompanied by the filing fee, unless it's waived) required by Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-147 (2023). Among other things, your notice must include a request for permission to sue the state. The Office of Claims Commissioner has forms you can use.

You must file this notice within one year after "the date when the … injury is sustained or discovered or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been discovered… ." (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-148 (2023).) If you're given permission to sue the state, you have one year from the date permission was granted to file your lawsuit in court. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-160(i) (2023).)

Other Claims With Special Notice Requirements

Claim Against

Statute

Notice Deadline

Lawsuit Deadline

Municipality for defective road or bridge

13a-149

90 days from date of injury

Two years from date of injury

Municipalities and municipal employees for other claims

7-101a

Six months from date of injury

Two years from date of injury

Housing authority for injuries on authority property

8-67

Six months from date of injury

Two years from date of injury

Where and How to File a PI Lawsuit

Your personal injury lawsuit is a kind of civil case. Most of the rules that will govern your case can be found in the Connecticut Rules of Civil Procedure. You can find those rules in the Connecticut Practice Book.

Where to File Your Lawsuit

The Connecticut court that has the authority to hear most kinds of cases, including PI cases, is called the Superior Court. If both you and the person you're suing (the "defendant") live in Connecticut, you should, as a general rule, file your lawsuit in the judicial district where you live or the defendant lives.

How to File Your Lawsuit

You start your PI lawsuit by filing a document called a "complaint" with the clerk of the court. Generally speaking, your complaint should describe, in separately numbered paragraphs, these things:

  • the parties involved in the case
  • when, where, and how the accident or event that caused your injuries happened
  • your injuries
  • why the defendant is legally responsible for your injuries—that is, what the defendant did wrong, and
  • the relief (usually damages) you want the court to grant you.

Depending on the kind of PI lawsuit you're filing, you might be required to include (or be prohibited from including) certain things in your complaint. You should get help from a Connecticut lawyer to make sure that your complaint covers everything that's required.

What Happens When You're Partly to Blame for the Accident?

To succeed with a personal injury claim, you must prove that the defendant was negligent. Quite often, the defendant will claim that you, too, were negligent, hoping to reduce (or completely eliminate) their responsibility to pay you damages. This legal defense, called "comparative negligence," is available in Connecticut.

Connecticut Is a Modified Comparative Negligence State

Under Connecticut law, if you're partly to blame for your injuries, you can still recover some damages—but only if you're not mostly to blame. As long as you're less than 51% at fault, your share of the fault reduces the damages you can collect. But if you're 51% or more to blame, you can't collect any damages. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-572h(b) (2023).)

Comparative Negligence Example

Say you're involved in an auto accident. At the time of the accident, you were driving a bit over the speed limit. You file a lawsuit against the other driver, claiming they negligently ran a red light. The other driver responds that you, too, were negligent, and asks that your share of the fault reduce or eliminate your damages.

After a trial, the jury decides that your total damages are $20,000 and that because you were speeding, you were 10% at fault. The other driver, says the jury, was 90% to blame. How much in damages can you collect? Because you were 10% responsible, you can still collect 90% of your damages: $20,000 x 90% = $18,000. The other driver's insurance company will write you a check for that amount.

What's the outcome if the jury decides that you were 51% (or more) to blame? You get no damages under Connecticut's modified comparative negligence rule.

Exception for Product Liability Cases

There's an important exception to Connecticut's modified comparative negligence rule. In product liability lawsuits, Connecticut follows a rule called "pure comparative negligence." Under this rule, you can recover some damages as long as you weren't 100% at fault. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-572o(a) (2023).) Your percentage of fault reduces the damages you get by that amount.

Does Connecticut Have Limits, or "Caps," on PI Damages?

Many states have enacted limits, or "caps," on damages in personal injury cases. Typically, these caps target injuries like pain and suffering and emotional distress. Where they're in place, these damage caps can significantly reduce the value of a PI claim.

Connecticut doesn't have damage caps in personal injury cases. If you succeed with your Connecticut PI lawsuit, you can collect the full amount of compensatory damages you're awarded. Connecticut does limit punitive damages, but those are rarely awarded in PI cases.

Next Steps

One of the takeaways from our basic review of Connecticut's PI laws is this: Many of these laws are complex and can be difficult to understand. Chances are you're not familiar with them, and the time to learn isn't while you're trying to handle your own PI claim or lawsuit.

You need expert help on your side to navigate this maze of laws and court rules. An experienced Connecticut lawyer knows the law, knows when and how to file your personal injury lawsuit, and knows how to work through Connecticut's comparative negligence rules.

Here's how to find a PI lawyer who's right for you and your case.

Make the Most of Your Claim
Get the compensation you deserve.
We've helped 285 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you