New York was the first state in the United States to enact a wrongful death statute. The law, passed in 1847, remains virtually unchanged today, allowing family members to receive compensation only for pecuniary, or money-related, losses caused by the wrongful death.
Fortunately, the New York Legislature has voted to pass the “Grieving Families Act,” which would allow surviving close family members to recover for emotional losses as well. By signing the Act into law the Governor can change a wrongful death law which for many years has been strictly limited to recovery of damages for “pecuniary injuries resulting from the . . . death.”
The Grieving Families Act would also broaden the class or category of people who can recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit to include “surviving close family members.” Those family members could include, but is not limited to, a “[s]pouse or domestic partner, issue, parents, grandparents, step-parents and siblings.”
The Grieving Families Act would also extend the statute of limitations by an additional one year and six months, from two years to three years and six months.
We hope that the Governor signs the Grieving Families Act into law because it would open the courthouse for many aggrieved people who have been told, for too long, that their loved one is without “value” in the eyes of New York civil law.
Assuming that the law is amended, an experienced attorney can explain how surviving close family members standing to benefit from the changes can commence a wrongful death lawsuit, which always requires a “personal representative . . . of a decedent,” defined as “a person who has received letters to administer the estate of a decedent.”
Once a personal representative is appointed by the court, a summons and complaint can be filed and served upon all parties who caused or contributed to the wrongful death. The summons must include the parties’ addresses and explain, among other things, the basis of venue, which is the location or forum where the case would be tried. The complaint is a type of “pleading” which must contain certain information about the parties and the allegations, including the damages alleged. In other words, the complaint, which formally commences the lawsuit, must state a valid cause of action for wrongful death.
Notably, the complaint in a wrongful death action must include certain information to be considered valid and avoid dismissal of the case. An experienced attorney can ensure that a personal representative was validly appointed and the complaint states a cause of action for wrongful death.
If you are looking for an experienced wrongful death accident attorney after an NY motor vehicle accident, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at William Mattar, P.C. We hope that the Governor signs the Grieving Families Act into law and will always be prepared to help our clients. For questions, contact us online or call (844)444-4444.