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In 2018, a total of $262.2 million was paid out to medical malpractice claimants in Connecticut, with an average payment of $935,000 per claim. Given that the state has no caps on its medical malpractice awards, such high amounts may be expected. While this sounds good for patients, such big payouts may have negative consequences.

For one, it may cause insurance companies to raise liability insurance premiums for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. The financial burden may push them to increase their fees, leave their practices, or practice defensive medicine. In the end, any of these options would still affect ordinary Connecticut residents. In light of these, reforms have been implemented — or are proposed to be made — to prevent claimants from obtaining excessive amounts of damages arising from medical malpractice.

For example, written testimony from a third-party healthcare provider has been required in filing medical malpractice suits since 2005. Thus, it is important to remain updated on the prevailing Connecticut medical malpractice laws, shaped by the dynamic issues of the state’s medical community. The most recent and important ones have been outlined in this article as a guide for victims of medical malpractice.

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in Connecticut?

Thousands of people get hospitalized in Connecticut every year. In any of those cases, a patient could have been harmed during or after their treatment, and a medical professional could have also committed a mistake. Will either situation lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit? The short answer is: not always.

Three important conditions must be met before a Connecticut medical malpractice lawsuit will be deemed valid:

  • A standard of care for treatment in line with the patient’s condition must be established. 

  • The medical provider (defendant) must have deviated from the said standard of care. 

  • There is a connection between the medical provider’s nonstandard actions and the patient’s injury.

It is essential to highlight the last condition; even if the patient can prove that a mistake has been made or the standard of care was not followed, their case will not hold up in court unless its connection with the incurred harm can be proven.

Another thing to note is that the defendant’s causative actions do not have to be intentional. As such, whether the healthcare worker did or did not mean harm to their patient, the lawsuit filed must be under medical malpractice. Connecticut has no separate law on medical negligence, unlike some states. In fact, the state’s legal resources often use the term negligence in connection with medical malpractice.

Who Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Connecticut?

Many associate medical malpractice lawsuits with doctors. However, they are not the only healthcare workers who can be sued for the said charges.

Medical malpractice lawsuits in Connecticut can be filed against a healthcare provider, which can be a person or an entity. Therefore, it is not just nurses, doctors, dentists, anesthesiologists, or other individuals who can be sued. A patient may also hold hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical companies, and other entities responsible as long as they are licensed to render healthcare-related services.


In certain situations, it may be harder to sue a healthcare provider as they are exempt from liability. 

For instance, it is difficult to sue the State of Connecticut or its government agencies for medical malpractice as you would need their consent. To some extent, their immunity covers state healthcare workers unless they committed intentional or reckless actions.

Another legality that may grant healthcare workers immunity is the Good Samaritan Law. It protects healthcare providers and laypersons from being liable for ordinary negligence if they provide volunteer medical assistance (e.g., first aid, CPR) to another person even when they are not legally obligated to. For instance, breaking a person’s ribs while resuscitating them won’t probably lead to a successful lawsuit, as the action may have been necessary for the improvement of their condition.

However, note that such immunity does not extend to gross or wanton negligence, which shows an intent to cause harm.

Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Requirements

Healthcare workers providing direct patient care in Connecticut are required to have the following professional liability insurance that could protect them against medical malpractice lawsuits:

  • At least $500,000 per person.

  • At least $500,000 per incident.

  • An aggregate of at least $1.5 million.

Not having medical malpractice liability insurance may cause the state’s Medical Examining Board to prevent a healthcare worker from practicing in the field. In line with this, insurance companies are required to report canceled or refused insurance policies to the Commissioner of Public Health. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases in Connecticut?

All lawsuits have to be filed by a certain time, known as the statute of limitations. For medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations is usually two years from when a patient incurs or discovers their injury.

However, Connecticut also has a statute of repose that prevents the filing of medical malpractice lawsuits more than three years after the treatment or action that led to a patient’s injury. As such, discovering one’s injury after three years may bar one from pursuing legal action.

In line with these deadlines, patients should not put off filing their cases or reporting their injuries. Although two to three years may seem lengthy, it can be a narrow timeline for lawyers to work with. That’s because to file a case, they must have obtained a good faith certificate and an expert’s opinion. These can take time to procure, such that a 90-day extension of the statute may be needed to conduct a reasonable inquiry. Certain entities may also need to be notified, especially if the government or its related agencies are involved.

Medical malpractice cases have been dismissed for not meeting the statute of limitations. One example is the Connell v. Colwell case, wherein a man’s wife tried to sue a physician in 1987 for not diagnosing his prostate cancer earlier, which took his life in 1986. The physician had examined the man from 1974 to 1982, so there was at least a five-year gap between the filing and the last examination. As such, the case had to be dismissed.

Possible Tolling Due to Continuing Duty to Warn

In rare cases, a plaintiff’s side may have the statute tolled or extended if they can prove that the defendant had a continuing duty to warn them of the malpractice. However, that is quite difficult to prove, as there are three conditions to meet:

  • The defendant must have wronged the patient.

  • There must be proof that the defendant breached their duty even after the first instance. 

  • The defendant’s actions are considered a breach of the standard of care expected from their profession.

To illustrate through an example:

A doctor giving a patient a drug with harmful effects meets the first condition, and not telling the patient about those effects meets the second condition. Both of these actions are inconsistent with the standard of care they were supposed to provide, and this fact meets the third condition. Therefore, the patient can argue that the deadline must be tolled so they can file a case even if the statutes of limitation and repose have already lapsed.

Medical Malpractice Leading to Wrongful Death

Sometimes, medical mistakes or negligence can cause more than just discomfort or survivable injuries; there are instances where they can lead to death. In these cases, the patient’s estate or living relatives may opt to file a wrongful death suit instead. 

According to state law, they can also pursue legal action for two years from the date the patient passed away. But in contrast to most non-fatal medical malpractice cases, those involving wrongful death have a longer statute of repose, which is five years.

What Do You Need to Prove in a Connecticut Medical Malpractice Case?

As mentioned above, a medical malpractice case is only considered valid if there is an established standard of care, the defendant breached it, and the breach caused the patient’s injury. However, to prove that these conditions are met, plaintiffs must comply with the reasonable inquiry or good faith certificate requirement. 

Connecticut’s general statutes state that a plaintiff’s lawyer must conduct a reasonable inquiry as a way to prove that the defendant has been negligent or breached the standard of care expected of them. The results of the inquiry should be declared through a good faith certificate. Moreover, evidence in the form of a written opinion letter must be made by a different healthcare provider who practices in the same field. 

These stringent requirements were implemented to discourage unnecessary lawsuits that lead to congested courts, burdened doctors, and rising liability insurance costs.

Opinion Letter From a Qualified Expert

In this letter, a healthcare provider must identify the standard-of-care treatment for patients. They must also express their opinion as to whether the defendant breached it and caused the patient’s injury. The plaintiff’s side cannot file their case without this letter and the certificate.

Note that not just any healthcare provider can make a written opinion letter. They must meet certain qualifications, which vary depending on whether the defendant is a certified specialist or not.

If the defendant is not a certified specialist (e.g., general practitioner), then the similar healthcare provider must be:

  • Licensed with the same or greater qualifications.

  • Trained in the same discipline or school.

  • Active through teaching or practice (in the same discipline) for the past five years. 

Meanwhile, if the defendant is a certified specialist (e.g., anesthesiologist, oncologist), the qualifications for a similar healthcare provider include:

  • Having training and experience in the same specialty.

  • Having certification in the same specialty.

If the defendant made a diagnosis outside their specialty, a specialist in the condition or diagnosis is considered a similar healthcare provider. Additionally, the expert who writes an opinion letter for a medical malpractice case in Connecticut may opt to stay anonymous.

How Much Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in Connecticut?

Connecticut stands out from other states as it has no limit on the amount one can sue for medical malpractice. Therefore, patients can receive up to millions if they win their lawsuits. 

In the state, one landmark case in terms of award money involves a couple from Norwalk recovering $58 million after successfully suing their obstetrician from Stamford. They claimed that a doctor’s actions, which included delaying a cesarean operation, led to their newborn son’s cerebral palsy.

Another case concerned Stamford Hospital, which was ordered to pay $12.5 million to the family of a man who died after a thigh surgery. The plaintiffs claimed that the orthopedic surgeon’s failure to provide a blood thinner to the patient led to his death. However, the hospital did not agree with the claim or the jury’s decision, so it appealed to the Superior Court in 2022.

But do note that not all medical malpractice cases are worth millions since several factors can affect a plaintiff’s recoverable damages:

Types of Damages

When filing a medical malpractice case against a healthcare provider, it is important to note that there are two main types of damages to sue for:

  • Economic damages: These pertain to expenses that have a definite value or are easy to calculate, such as medical bills, funeral costs, and lost income. In the case of the Norwalk couple, they received $8,600,000 as compensation for economic damages. 

  • Non-economic damages: These pertain to more abstract injuries, like pain and suffering, so they do not have a fixed value. For the Norwalk couple, they received $50 million in non-economic damages. 

The court may also order defendants to pay punitive damages, which are not implemented to compensate plaintiffs. Rather, the decision to impose such damages is aimed at deterring them and other healthcare providers from committing medical malpractice again. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, they are limited and can only cover litigation costs like attorney’s fees. 

Negligence System

Although a plaintiff may sue for as much as they want in Connecticut, they may not always get the amount they ask for. The state follows a modified comparative negligence system, which healthcare providers can use as a defense to reduce or eliminate the damages they have to pay. 

To elaborate, the amount plaintiffs can receive is reduced based on their degree of fault. Let’s say a defendant is able to prove that the plaintiff was 20% at fault. If the plaintiff sued for $1 million, they can only receive $800,000. The subtracted $200,000 is equivalent to 20%, which is their percentage of fault.

However, if a plaintiff is at least 51% at fault, they are no longer entitled to damages. Thus, even if they can prove the defendant was guilty, the latter does not have to pay them any amount as the plaintiff was mostly responsible for the injury. 

Remittitur for Excessive Awards

As stated above, Connecticut does not limit the award a plaintiff can receive. Nevertheless, to ensure any awarded non-economic damages above $1 million are not excessive, court decisions and pieces of evidence can be reviewed. If the court decides that the award is excessive, the plaintiff must remit or return a certain amount. If they refuse to do so, a new trial will be held, and the previous decision will no longer be valid.

Methods of Obtaining Compensation

Medical malpractice cases do not always have to end up in a lawsuit. Indeed, more patients and healthcare providers opt to settle out of court, as it takes less time and may be more cost-effective.

Both parties, through their lawyers and representatives, may conduct face-to-face, phone, virtual, or email discussions to resolve the matter. They may negotiate until they reach an outcome they can settle for. They may also involve a third party, such as a private arbiter.

A court mediation or settlement conference may also be requested. A judge or attorney will preside over the negotiations and discussions. Whichever way a settlement is to be conducted, the Department of Public Health should be informed. A copy of the settlement’s terms and awards should be provided, which the department will review. It may also determine if further disciplinary action is needed.  

How Much Does It Cost to Pursue a Medical Malpractice Case in Connecticut?

Cases can be costly, especially ones that proceed to a full trial. The most significant expense is the attorney’s fees. For medical malpractice lawsuits, lawyers usually do not charge upfront. Instead, they opt for a contingency fee, which is a portion of the award the plaintiff wins. Connecticut imposes a sliding scale limit on this fee:

Portion of the Award

Limit on the Attorney’s Contingency Fee

1st $300,000


2nd $300,000


3rd $300,000


4th $300,000


Excess of $1.25 million


To better understand the limits, suppose a plaintiff won $900,000 for their medical malpractice case. Thirty-three percent of the first $300,000 is $99,000, 25% of the next one is $75,000, and 20% of the final portion is $60,000. In total, the attorney’s contingency fee must not exceed $234,000.

There has been a precedent, though, of a plaintiff waiving these caps. They did so because no attorney would take on their case given the limits. In this situation, the court had to approve the arrangement before it could proceed.

Other costs include filing fees and payments for records, which can go up to a few hundred dollars. Plaintiffs may also have to pay fees for expert witnesses, who may charge up to hundreds of dollars per hour. There are also travel expenses, which the plaintiffs will have to shoulder for themselves. 

If both parties opt for a settlement, costs may be reduced. However, there will be unique expenses, such as the arbiter’s fee.

Legal Resources for Medical Malpractice Victims in  Connecticut

Connecticut Department of Public Health

If you have an issue related to a healthcare provider in Connecticut, you can file a complaint with the state’s Department of Public Health. To do so, you only have to fill out the form and submit it by mail, email, or fax. The department should acknowledge your complaint within a few weeks.

Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate

Medical malpractice victims with healthcare issues, especially concerning their health plans, may approach the OHA. This office also has links and resources related to other programs and departments. These include the Department of Aging and Disability Services, as well as Medicare and Medicaid centers. To directly request assistance, contact the agency via email ( or phone (1-866-466-4446).

Hartford Health Care

Hartford HealthCare connects locals to various hospitals, medical centers, physician groups, organizations, and other institutions that offer medical services. It provides financial assistance to qualified individuals and helps report instances of medical malpractice in the state. For inquiries, call 1-855-442-4373.

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