Losing a family member to a preventable accident can be a traumatic experience with significant lifelong psychological and financial consequences.
As it stands, New York’s wrongful death statute limits family members who are seeking compensation for the death of their loved one.
However, Senate Bill S74A, known as New York’s Grieving Families Act, will amend the provisions and distribution of damages in wrongful death claims.
Determining recoverable damages for wrongful death in NY is a complex and ever-changing process.
New York Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Under New York’s Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL), “wrongful death” refers to a death resulting from a “wrongful act, neglect, or default,” of which the deceased person could have pursued a personal injury lawsuit had they survived.
In contrast to other types of personal injury claims, the victim can no longer commence a suit in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Instead, another party must bring the claim on the deceased’s behalf. In New York, wrongful death can arise from a negligence-based event, medical malpractice, or an intentional act.
Economic Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Currently, EPTL § 5-4.1 permits an estate representative to assert a wrongful death cause of action on behalf of the decedent’s “distributees” who suffered pecuniary loss within two years of the decedent’s death. Damages in a NY wrongful death claim may include:
- Medical expenses needed to treat the victim;
- Funeral, cremation, or burial costs;
- Lost wages the victim was earning;
- Reduction of any inheritance the victim would have left;
- Loss of parental guidance the deceased would have provided; and
- Services the victim provided.
While some of these wrongful death damages are objective and, therefore, quantifiable, others, such as the loss of parental guidance, are subjective.
In these situations, an experienced NY wrongful death attorney can help families present a compelling case for compensation.
Non-Economic Damages and New York’s Grieving Families Act
The New York State senate and assembly passed the Grieving Families Act on June 7, 2022.
Once Gov. Hochul signs the bill into law, the new legislation will allow surviving family members to secure non-economic wrongful death damages.
One rationale for the change is that the current law, which allows compensation only for economic loss, harshly affects children, seniors, women, and people of color, who often lack income and are traditionally undervalued in society.
Some of the proposed changes include recovery for:
- Grief or anguish caused by the decedent’s death;
- Pecuniary injuries, including loss of services, support, and assistance; and
- Loss of nurture, guidance, counsel, and advice.
Further, the expansion will permit recovery by close family members and replaces the term “distributees” with “persons for whose benefit the action is brought.”
Despite the changes, the Act’s amended language presents vague and overbroad language. The Act does not define grief, love, or comfort, and it fails to give guidance on recoverable sums under these claims.
Thus, it is vital that families seeking to recover damages for their loved one’s death contact an experienced attorney.
It is expected that the Grieving Families Act will be signed into law, however, the Act is still pending.
The information provided on this page speaks in general terms. Of course, there are often exceptions that apply in certain situations.
For a complete list of all exceptions, please consult the Consolidated Laws of New York. Attorney Ted Naima is also happy to answer any questions you have about your injuries or ability to pursue a claim against the responsible party.
Learn More About How Your Family May Be Able to Recover Wrongful Death Damages
If your family recently lost a loved one in a tragic and preventable accident, you may be entitled to recover wrongful death damages from the at-fault party.
The Law Offices of Theodor A. Naima has a successful track record over the past 25 years of aggressively pursuing compensation on behalf of grieving families.
Ted Naima will tirelessly work to secure the money damages your family needs and deserves, while making the recovery process as easy as possible for your family.
To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, call 516-980-3096 today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.