Battle Over Bill to Extend Statute of Limitations for Lawsuits in Connecticut

The Hartford Courant recently reported that “There’s a battle unfolding at the state Capitol over a bill that would significantly change negligence law in Connecticut. Senate Bill 1028 would allow people who turn 18 to sue for personal injuries they suffered when they were minors and unable to sue in their own name. It would allow the recovery of damages caused by negligence, reckless misconduct and medical malpractice.

The Connecticut State Medical Society, along with physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers, are mobilizing against the bill. The medical society has launched an advertising blitz against the measure this week. The effort includes radio spots, web ads and email alerts to members urging them to call lawmakers and press for rejection of the bill, which cleared the legislature’s last month and is now pending in the Senate.

“There is little doubt that…Senate Bill 1028…will worsen the medical practice climate in Connecticut,” said Henry Jacobs, president-elect of the medical society. Jacobs said the state’s already-high malpractice insurance rates forced him to give up his obstetrics practice. “In a state where we struggle to attract and keep physicians, weakening an already frail liability system will only serve to drive our best and brightest physicians out of Connecticut,” Jacobs wrote in testimony provided to the judiciary committee. “Extending the statute of limitations for minors will only compound this problem.”

The bill has the backing of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, which says that many childhood injuries cannot be properly evaluated within the time-frame that lawsuits are permitted under current law. “The state has effectively kept children from asserting lawful claims for legitimate injuries they have suffered merely because the injury was suffered before they were of the legal age to bring a claim,” the trial lawyers group said in written testimony to the judiciary committee.

Current law allows generally limits a plaintiff’s ability to sue to within two years of discovery of the injury or within three years of complaining of the injury, except in cases of sexual abuse. Parents are permitted to sue on behalf of their minor children.