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New York State Modifies Wrongful Death Statute

New York is one of the few states that do not allow families to recover non-economic damages in wrongful death lawsuits. A new bill that has been passed in both the House and the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Hochul called The Grieving Families Act would change that.

As you may know, individuals in personal injury lawsuits are entitled to recover damages related to their medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced quality of life. However, families filing wrongful death lawsuits can only recover financial compensation and medical expenses attached to the deceased’s estate. The bill would allow families to recover damages for their emotional grief, as well.

While the new law makes New York State’s law closer to the vast majority of other states, there is some resistance to the measure. It could also drive up the cost of wrongful death lawsuits, causing businesses to lose 10 figures in certain cases. The general sense of preventing families from filing claims related to emotional damages was to reduce the overall cost of wrongful death lawsuits to businesses.

What is the Value of Your Life?

If you were killed tomorrow by a negligent truck driver how much would your life be worth to your family? The answer should anger you. It is directly related to how much money you earn every year plus your medical expenses. In other words, the lives of rich people are worth a heck of a lot more than your average Joe. While some might defend this position, and the law will always consider the wages of a wrongful death victim when compensating the family, the current law has no consideration for the value of a life beyond the individual’s earning power. New York’s wrongful death statute is thus among the most conservative in the country. While conservatives are interested in the value of life, they are also interested in protecting businesses from juries. Nonetheless, the most conservative states in the country have much more liberal wrongful death statutes than New York.

What if My Child Dies?

Here is where things can get ugly. Since children contribute nothing to the household in terms of finances, families filing wrongful death lawsuits are left only with the ability to recover medical expenses and funeral expenses. The vast majority of states allow parents to recover non-economic damages related to emotional grief, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and more. This leaves those who have lost a child to a negligent driver with little incentive to sue the driver or the company that employed them.

In addition to making the law similar to the rest of America, New York has also extended the statute of limitations and will broaden the types of family members who can file lawsuits on behalf of deceased relatives.

Talk to a New York Wrongful Death Attorney Today

The Glassman Law Group can advise you on when to file a wrongful death lawsuit given the incoming changes to the statute. Call today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin preparing your suit immediately.


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