"Grieving Families Act" Secures Final Legislative Approval
Wrongful Death Act Amendments Will Be Heading to Governor
In the final night of the 2022 New York legislative session, both the Senate and Assembly passed the Grieving Families Act, monumental amendments to New York State’s wrongful death statute. The legislation now will go to the Governor for final consideration.
Currently, under the NYS Estate, Powers & Trust Law (§ 5-4), the recovery for wrongful death is limited to the pecuniary loss to the survivors of the deceased. This bill dramatically expands both the damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim as well as those who may seek recovery. It also increases the statute of limitations from two years to three and a half years. Notably, this act, if signed into law, “shall take effect immediately and shall apply to all pending actions and actions commenced on or after such date,"
The language of the legislation as well as the sponsors' memorandum, can be found by clicking on the bill numbers: S74A (Hoylman)/A6770 (Weinstein):
The bolded language below adds to the category of damages that would be recoverable:
(I) REASONABLE FUNERAL EXPENSES OF THE DECEDENT PAID BY THE PERSONS FOR WHOSE BENEFIT THE ACTION IS BROUGHT, OR FOR THE PAYMENT OF WHICH ANY PERSONS FOR WHOSE BENEFIT THE ACTION IS BROUGHT IS RESPONSIBLE.
(II) REASONABLE EXPENSES FOR MEDICAL CARE INCIDENT TO THE INJURY CAUSING DEATH, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO DOCTORS, NURSING, ATTENDANT CARE, TREATMENT, HOSPITALIZATION OF THE DECEDENT, AND MEDICINES.
(III) GRIEF OR ANGUISH CAUSED BY THE DECEDENT'S DEATH, AND FOR ANY DISORDER CAUSED BY SUCH GRIEF OR ANGUISH.
(IV) LOSS OF LOVE, SOCIETY, PROTECTION, COMFORT, COMPANIONSHIP, AND CONSORTIUM RESULTING FROM THE DECEDENT’S DEATH.
(V) PECUNIARY INJURIES, INCLUDING LOSS OF SERVICES, SUPPORT, ASSISTANCE, LOSS OR DIMINISHMENT OF INHERITANCE, RESULTING FROM THE DECEDENT’S DEATH; AND LOSS OF NURTURE, GUIDANCE, COUNSEL, ADVICE, TRAINING, AND EDUCATION RESULTING FROM THE DECEDENT'S DEATH.
It would also lengthen the wrongful death statute of limitation from two years to three years and six months.
While the current law permits recovery only by the decedent’s distributees, this bill increases the category of individuals who may recover:
SURVIVING CLOSE FAMILY MEMBERS, WHICH MAY INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, SPOUSE OR DOMESTIC PARTNER, ISSUE, PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, STEP-PARENTS AND SIBLINGS. THE FINDER OF FACT SHALL DETERMINE WHICH PERSONS ARE CLOSE FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE DECEDENT UNDER THIS SECTION BASED UPON THE SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES RELATING TO THE PERSON’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DECEDENT.
Hurwitz Fine attorneys Chris Potenza and Alice Trueman penned an excellent article for the New York State Bar Association on the legislation a couple of months back:
Legislative Note: The Bad Faith Bill did not receive a floor vote in either house.
This Act and its expansion of available damages will have a significant impact on the value of any Wrongful Death case in New York. Hurwitz Fine’s interdisciplinary CAT Team, designed specifically to handle cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, is fully prepared to defend these claims. For more information on the CAT Team just click here.