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Common Wrongful Death Cases and the Grieving Families Act

Common Wrongful Death Cases and the Grieving Families ActAt Buttafuoco & Associates, our New York personal injury lawyers have been closely watching developments related to the New York Senate Bill 74a, also known as the Grieving Families Act.

The bill has passed the New York State senate and assembly and is currently awaiting the signature of recently re-elected Governor Kathy Hochul. There has been, however, some surprising opposition to the bill in recent weeks. I’ll tell you what these changes could mean for you below.

What is the Grieving Families Act?

Wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to another person’s misconduct or negligence. In these cases, the deceased’s family members or survivors can sue for wrongful death settlement.

The Grieving Families Act came about in response to New York’s outdated wrongful death law, originally enacted in 1847. Under the law, the grieving party can only recover pecuniary (monetary) losses; in other words, in civil court, the deceased party is only worth the amount of their income.

This means that all lower-income individuals, including children and the elderly, are worth less in the eyes of the law.

New York law also has a very narrow definition of who can file a wrongful death lawsuit: it is limited to spouses and children, and excludes partners, parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. The Act seeks to rectify this by allowing families to sue for damages beyond financial loss, such as emotional pain and suffering, lost wages, and funeral expenses. It will also expand who may bring a wrongful death case to include unmarried partners and other “surviving close family member[s].”

Finally, it will extend the wrongful death statute of limitations for these cases from two to 3.5 years, giving families more time to file their wrongful death suit.

As you can imagine, this will have an enormous beneficial impact on the surviving family in wrongful death situations, allowing them to be compensated for the full range of difficulties that are experienced after a loved one’s death.

Common Wrongful Death Cases

There are several kinds of wrongful death cases that occur again and again. Among the most common that we see at Buttafuoco & Associates are:

  • Vehicle Accidents:

    It has become significantly more dangerous to drive during the last few years. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a stark uptick in instances of impaired driving as well as reckless driving, including excessive speeding, weaving through traffic, and disregarding traffic signs.

  • Pedestrian Accidents:

    With the increase in reckless driving, it’s no wonder that pedestrians and cyclists are at risk. According to reporting in the New York Times, pedestrian deaths sharply rose by over 20% in 2021. Still, while this trend of pedestrian deaths intensified in the last few years, it was well underway before the pandemic.

Between 2009 and 2018, pedestrian fatalities in the United States rose from just over 4,000 deaths annually to over 6,000; this is in large part due to vehicle design and the popularity of trucks and SUVs. While taller vehicles may feel safer for the driver and passengers, they are far more dangerous for pedestrians. This is because it is far more difficult to see pedestrians from a larger vehicle, and collisions are far more dangerous to pedestrians.

  • Medical Malpractice:

    Whether it’s misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, or other types of neglect, medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of a wrongful death lawsuit.

  • Workplace Accidents and Illnesses:

    We see many workplace-related wrongful death claims, especially related to construction. Construction in particular is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States

While these are the most common examples of wrongful death cases, they don’t cover everything. No matter the circumstance, if you are concerned that your loved one’s death was due to another’s negligence, it’s worth reaching out to a wrongful death lawyer serving New York to see if your case qualifies.

Contacting an Attorney

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, you may be concerned that you won’t be able to take advantage of the new provisions in the act if Gov. Hochul signs it. However, the extended statute of limitations gives you more opportunity to work with a wrongful death attorney in New York.

To learn more about your rights to file a wrongful death claim, reach out to Buttafuoco & Associates for a free consultation. Call us today at 1-800-NOW-HURT.


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