The damages from losing a loved one can be emotionally and financially catastrophic. Thankfully, NY lawmakers are revising the state’s current wrongful death statute toward increasing compensation for emotional damages, including support from losing a loved one or life companion.

A change in NY wrongful death law is long overdue and something we have been advocating for for years. The bill is sponsored by NY senator and Chairman of Committee, Brad Hoylman, who recently stated that the revisions would help prioritize the inclusion of less wealthy families without as much to financially gain when confronted with the death of someone dear.

Interest in challenging the wrongful death statute has been on the rise for the past few years, and supporters of this new bill cite the original statue’s 150 year old age as evidence that its out of touch with the victims it could most support. After all, 41 other states in the U.S. allow family members to seek compensation for emotional losses; why should New York State be any different?

For challenges like losing income, it isn’t too difficult to consider how attorneys might appraise different percentages and sums. But losing a loved one can seem impossible to measure. New York State’s current laws limit wrongful death compensation to just a percentage of the lost income from a loved one’s death, but should the new bill pass, revisions would provide support across a wide range of losses, including damages for education, nurture, and more.

NY Bill S4006 would change NY’s archaic wrongful death law to permit grieving families to file a wrongful death suit for damages for their emotional loss in addition to their economic loss. Families who have lost children would be able to seek compensation beyond just a percentage of lost income and would now be permitted to recover for the grief and sorrow that accompanies the death of a child.

While it is uncertain whether Governor Cuomo will sign and pass the bill, the proposed changes mark a long overdue change in the types of damages that could be considered in NY wrongful death lawsuits.