New York state lawmakers on Tuesday put the finishing tocuhes on a bill to expand the state's wrongful death statute in a bid to make it easier for more people to file claims.
But whether the proposal satisfies the concerns raised by Gov. Kathy Hochul when she vetoed a previous version of the measure is not yet known.
If approved, emotional anguish would be covered under the state's wrongful death statute and a broader set of people would be able to bring claims.
The revised measure clarifies when the provision would take effect and creates a shorter statute of limitations. Supporters also contend they have clarified who is eligible to bring a wrongful death claim.
“New York is out of step with 47 other states’ wrongful death laws. We’ve denied countless family members the proper consideration for their loved ones since the current statute considers only economic loss," Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal said in May when he introduced a new version of the bill. "Courts are forced to discount the value of lives in wrongful death actions for those who aren’t breadwinners for their families, resulting in a disproportionate negative impact on people of color, women, children, seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities. We’ve responded to the governor’s concerns and will pass the Act again this session.”
Hochul rejected the previous version of the measure as opponents — including medical organizations, local governments, business groups and advocates for changing tort laws — raising concerns with the effect the proposal would have on insurance premiums as well as liability.
Many of those organizations have continued to oppose the measure.
“With New York already facing far and away the steepest liability costs in the country, this bill will exacerbate this already pervasive problem by imposing hundreds of millions of dollars in new costs on our healthcare system at a time when it can least absorb it," said Paul Pipa, the president of the Medical Society of the state of New York.
Lawsuit Reform Alliance Executive Director Tom Stebbins urged Hochul to veto the measure again.
"Organizations representing every sector of the economy – from construction to trucking to small businesses – have all called on the legislature to analyze the fiscal impact and rethink their approach to this proposal," he said. "As written, the bill will send insurance premiums skyrocketing while lining the pockets of the plaintiffs’ lawyers who already take 33% of every settlement or verdict."