New York's wrongful death statute could potentially change as state lawmakers gave final passage to a bill this week that would extend the statute of limitations for filing claims.
At the same time, the measure would expand to allow survivors to recover damages for their emotional losses. Arkansas, Florida and Michigan have similar laws on the books.
The bill, which will head to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk for her consideration, would be the first update to the last more than a century.
"When we measure the worth of a person's life on an economic basis, we normalize negligent and abusive treatment of those deemed economically expendable," said Assemblyman Ron Kim, a supporter of the bill. "This new statute is game-changing; it will reshape the way long-term facilities and hospitals treat their patients. It will systemically root out negligence because it mandates our courts to recognize the universal value of life."
But a group seeking tort reform in New York knocked the final passage of the bill.
"Just after medical professionals have been to hell and back, the New York State Legislature passed a bill that an actuarial analysis shows will increase medical professional liability premiums by nearly 40% annually," said Tom Stebbins, the executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York. "Auto insurance and general liability premiums will also increase, totaling more than $19 billion each year. This all translates to higher costs for healthcare, consumer goods, government services – all as consumers are already facing record-high prices."