senate Bill S551

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Provides for the types of damages that may be awarded to the persons for whose benefit an action for wrongful death is brought

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to judiciary
Jan 09, 2013 referred to judiciary

Co-Sponsors

S551 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A1001
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Estates, Powers and Trusts Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §5-4.3, EPT L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S2540, A4851
2009-2010: S2391, A2872

S551 - Bill Texts

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Provides for the types of damages that may be awarded to the persons for whose benefit an action for wrongful death is brought i.e. grief and anguish; loss of love, society, protection, comfort, companionship and consortium; reasonable funeral expenses; reasonable expenses for medical care, treatment etc. prior to death; pecuniary injuries due to loss of services, support, inheritance; and loss of nurture, guidance or education.

view sponsor memo
BILL NUMBER:S551

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the estates, powers and trusts law, in relation to payment
and distribution of damages in wrongful death actions

PURPOSE:
This bill would permit the families of wrongful death victims
to recover compensation for their emotional anguish.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
The bill amends EPTL section 5-4.3, the
wrongful death statute, to permit recovery of damages for emotional
loss when a tortfeasor is found liable for causing a death. Current
law allows recovery of pecuniary loss only, thus making it impossible
for spouses, children, parents, and siblings to receive any
compensation for their non-economic loss.

JUSTIFICATION:
Families who suffer the loss of a loved one must endure
a second blow, when they discover the civil justice system is unable
to compensate them for their emotional loss. A wrongful death statute
that is nearly 150 years old, and sadly out of step with our sister
states, prohibits the grief-stricken family from recovering damages
for their emotional suffering from the wrongdoer.

The current law, which awards compensation for pecuniary loss only,
impacts most harshly on children, seniors, women and minorities, who
often have no income or significantly less income, and are
traditionally undervalued in our society. For many years, the courts
have struggled to overcome the current law's narrow and inhumane
language, which measures the worth of loved family members solely by
their value as wage earners. The law, in essence, says that the
attributes of our family members that we most value--emotional
support, love, companionship, advice and guidance--count for nothing.

At least 41 other states compensate family members for emotional loss.
This bill will not only better address and more fully right the wrong
to the family of the deceased, it will also deter the negligent,
reckless, sometimes criminal behavior that leads to needless deaths.
It is ironic and contrary to public policy that currently a wrongdoer
may take advantage of the law that makes it cheaper to kill someone
than to seriously injure them. This bill would correct this harsh
anomaly of the current wrongful death law.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
S.2540/A.4851 (2011-12)A.S.2391/A.2872 (2009-10);
S.1266/A.6420 (2007-08); S.54/A.5856 (2005-06); S.2994/A.6637 (2003-04);
S.793/A.7789 (2001-02) S.5487/A.8013 (1999); S.585-A/A.4553-A (1997);
S.2133/A.3224 (1995); S.8558/A.11792 (1994)

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:


Immediately and shall apply to all trials commenced on
or after said date.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                   551

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  DeFRANCISCO -- read twice and ordered printed, and
  when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary

AN ACT to amend the estates, powers  and  trusts  law,  in  relation  to
  payment and distribution of damages in wrongful death actions

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Paragraph (a) of section 5-4.3 of the estates,  powers  and
trusts law, as amended by chapter 100 of the laws of 1982, is amended to
read as follows:
  (a)  The  damages awarded to the plaintiff may be such sum as the jury
or, where issues of fact are tried without a jury, the court or  referee
deems  to  be  fair  and  just compensation for the [pecuniary] injuries
resulting from the decedent's death to the persons for whose benefit the
action is brought. In every such action, in addition to any other lawful
element of recoverable damages, [the reasonable expenses of medical aid,
nursing and attention incident to  the  injury  causing  death  and  the
reasonable funeral expenses of the decedent paid by the distributees, or
for  the  payment of which any distributee is responsible, shall also be
proper elements of damage] FAIR COMPENSATION FOR THE  FOLLOWING  DAMAGES
MAY  BE RECOVERED:  (I) REASONABLE FUNERAL EXPENSES OF THE DECEDENT PAID
BY THE DISTRIBUTEES, OR FOR THE PAYMENT  OF  WHICH  ANY  DISTRIBUTEE  IS
RESPONSIBLE;  (II)  REASONABLE EXPENSES FOR MEDICAL CARE INCIDENT TO THE
INJURY CAUSING DEATH, INCLUDING BUT NOT  LIMITED  TO  DOCTORS,  NURSING,
ATTENDANT  CARE,  TREATMENT,  HOSPITALIZATION OF THE DECEDENT, AND MEDI-
CINES; (III) GRIEF OR ANGUISH CAUSED BY THE DECEDENT'S  DEATH,  AND  FOR
ANY  DISORDER CAUSED BY SUCH GRIEF OR ANGUISH; (IV) LOSS OF LOVE, SOCIE-
TY, PROTECTION, COMFORT, COMPANIONSHIP, AND  CONSORTIUM  RESULTING  FROM
THE   DECEDENT'S  DEATH;  (V)  PECUNIARY  INJURIES,  INCLUDING  LOSS  OF
SERVICES, SUPPORT, ASSISTANCE, AND LOSS OR DIMINISHMENT OF  INHERITANCE,
RESULTING FROM THE DECEDENT'S DEATH; AND (VI) LOSS OF NURTURE, GUIDANCE,

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD03696-01-3

S. 551                              2

COUNSEL,  ADVICE,  TRAINING, AND EDUCATION RESULTING FROM THE DECEDENT'S
DEATH.  Interest upon the principal sum recovered by the plaintiff  from
the  date of the decedent's death shall be added to and be a part of the
total sum awarded.
  S  2.  This  act  shall take effect immediately and shall apply to all
trials commenced on or after such date.

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