Wrongful death laws permit survivors to seek monetary damages from the parties who were responsible for causing the death of a close family member.
New York’s wrongful death laws were passed in 1847 and have not been updated since. Those laws permit family members to recover for monetary losses they incurred due to the family member’s death. The estate of the deceased can also recover for the conscious pain and suffering which the deceased endured prior to her demise, as a result of the wrongful act. These laws, however, do not provide compensation for the emotional loss and for the grief suffered by the survivor(s). As a result, in cases where there has been no monetary loss and/or where the duration and quality of “conscious pain and suffering” does not merit an award, there is frequently no legal remedy available to the family. That is frequently the situation in cases involving the elderly or the young (who were not supporting anyone) or victims who perhaps passed away while under anesthesia, i.e, without conscious pain and suffering.
New York’s antiquated wrongful death laws are decades behind the laws in the vast majority of states. The Grieving Families Act has passed the Judiciary Committee in the State Senate and the Assembly but has not been enacted into law. It is high time for that to happen.