New York, N.Y. (June 3, 2022) - The New York Senate and Assembly recently passed Bill S74A, also known as the Grieving Families Act, and it is expected that Governor Hochul will likely sign the bill into law. If passed, the law would significantly expand the damages available in wrongful death actions in a number of ways.
First, Section 1 would amend EPTL section 5-4.1 to extend the statute of limitations to commence a wrongful death action from two years to three years and six months, a significant increase that will permit many more wrongful death cases to go forward.
Second, Section 2 amends EPTL section 5-4.3, to allow recovery for emotional damages if a tortfeasor is found liable for causing a death. The current law only allows recovery of economic damages, such as economic hardship caused by a loss of parental guidance. The old law did not permit recovery of damages for grief, sympathy, and loss of companionship or consortium (see, e.g., Liff v. Schildkrout, 49 N.Y.2d 622 (1980); Bumpurs v. New York City Hous. Auth., 139 A.D.2d 438, 439 (1st Dept. 1988)), but that would change with passage of the new bill.