wrongful death
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By Joseph Dell
Managing Partner

Losing a loved one is never easy. A seat at the table is now empty on holidays. Someone is missing at major family events and milestones. What can make things even worse is if your loved one lost his or her life due to the negligence of someone else. This is why the law provides for grieving families to file wrongful death lawsuits against those who are responsible. The only problem is that New York State has one of the most restrictive wrongful death statutes in the nation. It limits who can sue for a lost loved one, what kind of damages they can recover, and how much time they have to file a lawsuit. But all of that may change for the better. On June 6, 2023, the Senate joined the Assembly in voting to pass the Amended Grieving Families Act. This could give hope to families like yours who have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others.

At Dell & Dean, PLLC, we will work hard to represent you and your family as you seek a wrongful death action to compensate you for the loss of your loved one. While we know that no amount can ever make up for your tragic loss, it is important to hold those responsible to account. Also, in many cases, wrongful death will have a major financial impact on your life, especially if your loved one was a breadwinner in your household.

The Current State of the Law

Right now in New York, you only have a two-year window in which to file a wrongful death claim. This means that the statute of limitations clock starts ticking on the day your loved one passes away. Those two years can go by very quickly, especially if you are in the process of grieving. 

The current law also limits who has the right to file a wrongful death action. Currently, only children, parents, spouses, and legal representatives of an estate have this right. 

In addition, you are limited in the types and kinds of damages you are entitled to recover. This statute, which is over 176 years old, only lists recoverable damages like pecuniary losses from things like lost wages, medical expenses associated with the injury that caused the death, and reasonable funeral expenses. These current rules have made it difficult for loved ones to receive compensation in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Amended Grieving Families Act

The New York State Legislature passed an Amended Grieving Families Act in the 2021-22 session. However, Governor Kathy Hochul chose to veto the amendment because she felt it lacked clarity on a number of issues. The Legislature went back to work and tried to address these concerns in hopes that she would not veto the current bill. If she signs it into law, it will make a number of significant changes.

The first deals with the Statute of Limitation for wrongful death cases. It will extend it from two to three years after the death of a loved one. This will give families more time to work with their attorneys to prepare and file a lawsuit. There will also be a one-time look-back period that will allow anyone who lost a loved one due to the alleged negligence of another to file a suit if the death occurred on or after July 1, 2018. This is one of the most controversial parts of the bill as critics think it will jam the courts with many new lawsuits.

The new law would also expand the list of people who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit to such close relatives as domestic partners, foster and stepchildren, grandparents, step-parents, siblings, step-grandparents, and anyone standing in loco parentis to the deceased person. This would more closely reflect how modern families exist within the State.

Finally, there is an expansion on the damages that may be recovered. Probably the most important of these is the grief and anguish suffered by losing the loved one. This is similar to pain and suffering damages recovered in other types of personal injury lawsuits.

Call Us If You Have Lost a Loved One

We are a team of experienced personal injury attorneys who are ready to represent you if you have lost a loved one. Our firm doesn’t just work hard on your wrongful death case. We will also treat you like a family member, helping you through this difficult time in your life. This is the difference that coming to Dell & Dean will make for you. Please call us today.

About the Author
Joseph G. Dell, the firm’s Managing Partner, is regarded as one of New York State’s top trial lawyers and a zealous advocate of those injured through the negligence of others. Having founded the firm in 1994 with the singular goal of leveling the playing field for those injured, Mr. Dell has worked tirelessly for his clients since its inception. In addition to meeting with clients on a daily basis and trying cases, Mr. Dell is a frequent lecturer at Law School and Bar Associations on cases of significant importance in the fields of negligence and medical malpractice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact Mr. Dell here.