In our last newsletter, we reported on the potential pitfalls associated with the anticipated passage of New York Senate Bill S74A, also known as the “Grieving Families Act.” Our prior article pointed out the problematic nature of the bill in that it would significantly expand the potential pool of eligible claimants in wrongful death cases, it would allow these newly eligible claimants to recover more sizable sums in damages, and it would extend the statute of limitations by 75%. Such drastic changes to the current legislation would have necessitated far higher insurance premiums on the trucking industry and opened an already passion-provoking subject matter to an incalculably higher number of claimants. These factors, accompanied by the palpable increase in possible damage payouts, would have had unforeseeable consequences on the trucking industry and economy as a whole.
Fortunately, on January 30, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed Senate Bill S74A, citing the need for further analysis before “far-reaching legislation is passed.” In a New York Daily News Op-Ed, Governor Hochul called for a methodical approach to the issue to avoid any undesired consequences that would overshadow the objective of the bill. The consequences she considers include an increase in already high health insurance premiums, significant cost to certain economic sectors, and a heavier burden on the still recovering healthcare system. On an issue that is emotional and complex, Governor Hochul calls for balance. The goal must be justice “without jeopardizing the economy.”
Governor Hochul’s statement did not shut the door completely on reformative legislation for grieving families, however. The governor states that she has already proposed the legislature amend the law. She closed her remarks by asking the New York legislature to join her in “a meaningful step forward” for grieving families. What a more precise bill may look like is yet to be seen, but Governor Hochul’s veto of the “Grieving Families Act” has helped avoid undesired economic consequences for the time being.
ICYMI: Governor Hochul's Op-Ed in the New York Daily News: Let's Agree on Helping Grieving Families Before Today's Midnight Deadline