NY State Legislature Passes Grieving Families Act

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

The Grieving Families Act is about to become law in the state of New York.  The bill allows for families of those who suffered a wrongful death to recover monetary damages from the responsible party.

he New York Senate and Assembly recently passed Bill S74A, also known as the Grieving Families Act, and it is expected that Governor Hochul will likely sign the bill into law. If passed, the law would significantly expand the damages available in wrongful death actions in a number of ways.

First, Section 1 would amend the current law to extend the statute of limitations to commence a wrongful death action from two years to three years and six months, a significant increase that will permit many more wrongful death cases to go forward.

Second, Section 2 current law, to allow recovery for emotional damages if the negligent party is found liable for causing a death. The current law only allows recovery of economic damages, such as economic hardship caused by a loss of parental guidance. The old law did not permit recovery of damages for grief, sympathy, and loss of companionship or consortium (see, e.g., Liff v. Schildkrout, 49 N.Y.2d 622 (1980); Bumpurs v. New York City Hous. Auth., 139 A.D.2d 438, 439 (1st Dept. 1988)).

This is a significant moment for those who’ve lost loved ones as a result of another party’s negligence.  It also recognizes the true nature of grief-something that goes beyond mere economic damages and affects a broader range of persons than the old law covers.

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