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New York’s New Grieving Families Act Allows Greater Wrongful Death Restitution

Wrongful Death

Losing a family member is difficult under the best of circumstances. When that loss occurs suddenly and unexpectedly because of the negligent conduct of some other party, it can be downright devastating. The New York legislature recently enacted a law that reflects the emotional hardship suffered by the families of car accident victims, medical malpractice victims, and other personal injury incidents. Under the new law, grieving families finally have the right to seek compensation for the psychological and emotional trauma they suffered as a result of their loved one’s death. Continue reading to learn about New York’s Grieving Families Act. If your loved one was killed as a result of someone else’s negligence in Goshen, the Hudson Valley, or New York City, call a compassionate New York wrongful death lawyer for advice and representation.

Existing Law Covers Only Financial Losses for Grieving Families

If you were seriously injured in a car accident, a medical malpractice incident, or as the result of a defective product, you have the right to file a claim for damages against the party responsible for your injuries. You can collect both “economic” damages–lost wages and medical expenses–as well as “noneconomic” damages for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other psychological harms. The personal injury laws reflect the understanding that a serious accident does more than pure financial harm. The damage to your psyche and your way of life can be just as devastating, if not more so.

If someone is killed in an accident, their family has the right to bring a claim for damages against the party that caused their death. Under previous law, however, the grieving family’s rights were much more limited. They could only seek compensation for direct financial losses, such as medical expenses and the loss of the deceased person’s income. The law granted grieving family members no recourse for the serious emotional and psychological damage caused by the death of a loved one, especially a sudden and unexpected death. Family members could not recover for the loss of companionship, the loss of emotional support, the loss of a parent’s guidance, etc. Parents could not recover for the devastation caused by the loss of a child and were generally limited in recovery because children, of course, are not big wage-earners.

Existing law also limited wrongful death claims to “traditional” family members. Unmarried partners and even grandparents (until a recent court decision) have traditionally been excluded. The new law seeks to remedy all of these oversights.

Grieving Families Act Expands Damages, Category of Plaintiffs for Wrongful Death Claims

In June 2022, the Grieving Families Act passed both houses of the New York legislature. As of the time of this publication, the bill awaits delivery to Governor Kathy Hochul for her signature.

The Grieving Families Act fixes many of the problems with New York’s existing wrongful death law, which has been in place for over a century. Under the terms of the new law, “close family members” of a person killed intentionally or through negligent or reckless conduct can recover noneconomic damages in a wrongful death claim. Surviving family members can seek compensation for their own grief and anguish, as well as for their loss of companionship, love, comfort, guidance, counsel, and other emotional connections to the deceased.

The new law expands the definition of “close family member” to include domestic partners and grandparents as well as anyone else the judge or jury determines should be considered a “close family member” of the deceased, whether or not they are related by blood or marriage. The new law also extends the statute of limitations (the time limit) for filing a wrongful death claim from two years to three and a half years.

Proponents of the law hail it as finally permitting justice for grieving family members who have for so long been left without adequate recourse for the fatally negligent misconduct of others.

If You’ve Suffered from the Death of a Loved One, Dupée & Monroe is Here to Help

If you need help seeking compensation for the harm you suffered after the wrongful death of a loved one, or if you are pursuing another negligence-based claim in New York, contact the seasoned and effective Goshen personal injury lawyers Dupée & Monroe for a free consultation at 845-294-8900.

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