August 2023 Newsletter
Welcome to our August Newsletter!
Now that it is August, many are enjoying those lazy summer days before going back to school or work. While everyone is trying to savor the last days of summer, there are important bills on the Governor’s desk in Albany. The bill we talk about in this newsletter focuses on New York State’s outdated wrongful death law, and how it may affect you.
URGE GOVERNOR HOCUL TO SIGN THE GRIEVING FAMILIES ACT INTO LAW
New York’s Wrongful Death law, codified in 1847 is now over 170 years old. It surprises most people to learn that the law limits the recovery of damages for those who die as a result of the negligence or malpractice of others to financial losses. Limiting damages to these losses adversely impacts the families of those who are very young, the elderly and those whose incomes are suppressed by socio-economic factors. Most would agree that no one person’s life is worth less to their families than another’s due to gender or race, however the harsh reality is that our current law forces this inequity upon us.
Insurance companies motivated solely by their profit margins have lobbied against the change, citing the fear of increased payments for settlements and jury awards. Most would agree that equal justice under the law requires fairness to all and should not be guided by profit margins.
Forty-one other states have wrongful death laws that permit recovery for emotional loss of a loved one. New York law on this subject is the exception, rather than the rule. Both houses of our state legislature have passed the Grieving Families Act (, The Assembly bill, A6770 passed on June 2, 2023, and the Senate Bill S74A passed on June 6, 2023. The legislation now sits on the Governor’s desk for her signature.
The Senate bill summarizes the changes this way:
Section 1 amends EPTL section 5-4.1 to extend the time permitted to bring a wrongful death action by one year and six months.
Section 2 amends EPTL section 5-4.3, to permit recovery of damages for emotional loss when a tortfeasor is found liable for causing a death. Current law allows recovery of pecuniary loss only, thus making it impossible for close family members to receive any compensation for their non-economic loss.
Section 3 amends EPTL section 5-4.4 to permit recovery by close family members.
Section 4 amends EPTL section 5-4.6 to replace distributees with persons for whose benefit the action is brought.
Section 5 states that the act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to all pending actions and actions commenced on or after such date.
Under the current law, those who can recover are limited to “distributees” as listed in the Estate Powers and Trusts Law. This excludes some family members by focusing on the traditional nuclear family structure and is outdated in today’s world.
If you agree that a change is needed, go to: HopeForNYFamilies.org
and ask Governor Hochul to do the right thing for the families of those who died due to the negligence or malpractice of others by signing this act into law!
If someone you know died as a result of the negligence or malpractice of another, please contact us regarding your right to damages for wrongful death.