Hedonic Damages in Connecticut

An Important Element of Your CT Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice or Wrongful Death Case

Hedonic damages refer to an element ofin a personal injury, medical malpractice or . Noneconomic damages are monies awarded as compensation for non-monetary losses and injuries which the plaintiff or, in a wrongful death case, has suffered as a result of the fault of another.  They are awarded for such things as and suffering and the destruction of the ability to enjoy life's pleasures.

Hedonic damages are also referred to as , loss of life’s pleasure or lost value of life. The word Hedonic is derived from the Greek  “hedonikos” meaning delight and was first coined as a theory of recovery by Economics Professor Stanley Smith in Sherrod v. Berry, a 1987 Seventh Circuit wrongful death case.

Connecticut is only one of a handful of states that provides for hedonic damages in a wrongful death action. Section 52-555 of the Connecticut General Statutes provides a deceased person’s legal representative with the ability to maintain a cause of action against the responsible party for, among other things, the wrongful death of the decedent.

Connecticut’s wrongful death statute also provides for compensation for the loss of the capacity to enjoy life’s activities. Additionally, section 14-295 of the provides the decedent’s representation with the right to assert a claim for double or treble damages.

Double or treble damages may be awarded if it is specifically pled and proven that another party has deliberately, or with reckless disregard, operated a motor vehicle in violation of the specifically named statutes and if that violation was a substantial factor in causing the decedent’s death.

held in Floyd v. Fruit Industries, Inc (1957) that damages for wrongful death are not restricted to those arising from the mere destruction of earning capacity. Some damages are recoverable for the death itself, without regard to earning capacity.

Although there is no mathematical formula for determining Hedonic damages, the calculation of the loss must represent a crude monetary forecast of how the deceased’s life would have evolved.

An award of damages in a wrongful death,or medical malpractice case is left to the jury to determine and this calculation should not be disturbed or set aside unless the verdict is exorbitant, plainly excessive, or if the findings are contrary to law, not supported by proof or contrary to the Court’s explicit and unchallenged instructions.

The worth of a hedonic portion of a plaintiff’s claim will be based upon a number of factors including the plaintiff's or decedent’s way of life, how active the person was, the person’s relationship with family members and friends and the lifestyle which the plaintiff or decedent led.


Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyerat Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state.  A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a Connecticut Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents."  He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.


Suzanne Brennan July 14, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Thank you for keeping us informed, Richard. I hope you'll consider ongoing editorials on the perils of social hosting as underage drinking continues to float under the radar in our community. Parents who social host under the guise of 'community service' put all our children -- and all drivers -- at great risk.
LocalYokel July 14, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Hi Richard, I love you articles. Very informative and leads to great discussions with my cronies. I wonder if you could write something about property lines and trees. This has been a real topic of concern between a few neighbors I know. A number of issues have come up, 1) Can Mr. Jones trim tree branches from Mr. Smith's trees if the branches are hanging over Mr. Jones's driveway and hitting his car? 2) Who is responsible for leaves falling from Mr. Smith's trees and landing in Mr. Jones's yard? 3) The branches of Mr. Smith's apple tree hang over Mr's Jones's yard. Can Mr. Jones help himself to an apple? Can Mr. Smith? 4) Mr. Smith has a large dead tree leaning into Mr. Jones's yard. Does Mr. Smith have a legal obligation to take it down before the tree falls on its own and damages Mr. Jones's property? Thanks!!
Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson July 15, 2011 at 01:59 AM
How did medical professional liability insurers fare in 2010? Composite results for MPL insurers. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=3882
Richard Hastings July 15, 2011 at 02:35 PM
I will Suzanne as it always seems to be an unfortunate topical subject. Thank you for the comment!
Richard Hastings July 15, 2011 at 02:37 PM
I would be happy to provide you with additional discussional information for you and your cronies. Thanks


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