The New York State Assembly today (June 1, 2023) gave its approval to a revised proposal to expand the scope of damages that can be recovered by spouses, children and family members of their loved ones killed as a result of another party’s negligence.
The measure that passed in the Assembly (the “Grieving Families Act”) permits a judge or jury deciding such “wrongful death” lawsuits to consider damages for the emotional anguish of the survivors. The bill is expected to be considered soon by the New York State Senate, and if it passes there, would go to the desk of Governor Kathy Hochul for final approval.
A different version of the legislation passed both houses of the Legislature last year but was vetoed in December by the Governor, who acknowledged opposition to the law from some business organizations, local governments and the insurance industry. The revised law passed by the Assembly amended the version vetoed by Gov. Hochul by, among other things, shortening the statute of limitations (the time within which a lawsuit must be filed) and redefining the list of persons who would be eligible to file a wrongful death action.
New York law now only permits wrongful death plaintiffs to recover for their economic (pecuniary) losses, which typically significantly devalues a claim when the person killed (such as a child, teenager, grandparent or retiree) is not a regular wage earner, or providing direct financial support to his or her loved ones.