Any time you've been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else's property in Connecticut (whether residential or commercial), it usually make sense to explore your options for getting compensation for your losses -- especially when the property owner's negligence likely played a part in causing dangerous property conditions.
A number of Connecticut laws and legal rules will almost certainly affect any lawsuit you decide to file over your slip and fall. Two of the most important of these are the statute of limitations deadline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit in the Connecticut court system, and the state's "comparative negligence" rule, which can limit your right to recover compensation if you bear some amount of responsibility for the accident. Even if you're pretty sure your case will reach a personal injury settlement out of court, you still need to keep these state laws in mind, so read on for the details.
A statute of limitations is a law that puts a time limit on your right to have a lawsuit heard in a state's civil court system. Specific time limits vary depending on the kind of case you want to file.
As with the majority of states, the statute of limitations that applies to a slip and fall case in Connecticut is the same one that applies to any kind of personal injury case. Specifically, General Statutes of Connecticut section 52-584 says: "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…shall be brought but within two years from the date when the injury is first sustained."
In plain English, and in the context of a slip and fall accident, if you think the owner of the private or commercial property where the accident occurred is responsible for your injuries, you must get any lawsuit filed against that person (or business) within two years, and the "clock" starts running on the date the slip and fall occurred.
And, reading the language of section 52-584, that same two-year deadline applies if your personal property was damaged -- let’s say you broke an expensive watch when you fell, for example -- and you want to file a lawsuit asking for the repair or replacement of that property.
Whether your slip and fall lawsuit is for injury or property damage, the success or failure of the case will most likely turn on whether you can prove that the defendant failed to take reasonable steps to keep the property safe and to prevent your accident. Learn more about premises liability and proving fault for a slip and fall.
What if you don't get your slip and fall lawsuit filed before the statutory deadline passes? The property owner will ask the court to dismiss the case once you do try to file it, and the court will almost certainly grant the dismissal. In some rare instances, the statute of limitations clock may pause or "toll," giving you more time to get your lawsuit started. Talk to a personal injury attorney for the details on these exceptions in Connecticut, and whether they might apply to your situation.
You’re making a slip and fall claim, only to hear the property owner argue that you bear some amount of responsibility for the accident. What's this all about?
If your Connecticut slip and fall case makes it to court, the state's "modified comparative negligence" rule will be used to determine how much compensation (if any) you can still receive from the property owner if you were at all negligent in connection with the accident.
This rule is codified in General Statutes of Connecticut section 52-572h(b), which says: "In causes of action based on negligence, contributory negligence shall not bar recovery in an action…to recover damages resulting from personal injury, wrongful death or damage to property if the negligence was not greater than the combined negligence of the person or persons against whom recovery is sough … The economic or noneconomic damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion of the percentage of negligence attributable to the person recovering."
In other words, in any Connecticut personal injury lawsuit, if the plaintiff is deemed at fault, they can still get compensation from other responsible parties, as long as the plaintiff's share of liability does not exceed 50 percent. If it does exceed 50 percent, then the plaintiff can't recover anything at all.
So, let's say the jury finds that you are 20 percent responsible for your slip and fall. They also find that your damages (including your medical bills, lost income, and "pain and suffering") total $40,000. That will leave the property owner on the hook for $32,000 (that’s the original $40,000 minus the 20 percent that represents your share of fault).
Even if your case doesn’t make it to trial -- even if a lawsuit isn’t actually filed, for that matter -- Connecticut's comparative negligence rule will still be a factor. During settlement negotiations, the property owner's insurance company (and/or their attorney) are concerned with what might happen if your case does wind up in court. So you can expect any settlement offer to reflect the other side's view of the part you played in causing or contributing to the slip and fall. That's why it's so important to make a strong case against the property owner.