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Grieving Families Act

Syracuse Lawyers for Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Historically, families in New York suing for wrongful death have not been able to recover noneconomic damages. However, recently, the Grieving Families Act, which would expand the scope of compensatory damages in New York wrongful death lawsuits made it through the New York State Legislature. This law could make a huge difference to families who have lost their loved ones through fault of negligent parties. The law is pending signature by the New York Governor. If you need to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to discuss your family’s situation with the experienced Syracuse wrongful death lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Attorneys. The Grieving Families Act may dramatically affect the damages you’re able to recover for the loss of your loved one.

Grieving Families Act in Syracuse

In the approach that has been codified by statute for more than a century in New York Estates Powers and Trusts Law sections 5-4.1–5-4.6, family members have been limited to recovering pecuniary losses. These have included medical expenses incurred before death, loss of financial support, and funeral and burial expenses. However, the statute did not allow pain and suffering damages.

The Grieving Families Act would modernize the wrongful death statute, bringing it into line with the statutes of most other states. Importantly it would expand the statute of limitations to 3 ½ years. This gives families more time to grieve and figure out whether they have enough evidence to pursue accountability.

Additionally, by allowing Syracuse plaintiffs to recover for their pain and suffering after losing a loved one, the Legislature recognized that families suffer substantial and dramatic emotional losses in the untimely death of a loved one through negligence or intentional misconduct. For example, if you lose your spouse too soon due to a failure to diagnose cancer by his doctor, you would not be limited only to pecuniary losses, but also the pain and suffering and mental anguish you feel in connection with his death. For another example, if your mother was killed as a result of nursing home negligence that allowed her to wander off, you could also recover for your own emotional distress as a result of that loss.

Under the Grieving Families Act, our Syracuse personal injury lawyers would still need to prove that the defendant should be held liable. In many wrongful death lawsuits, including those arising out of a motor vehicle accident, this requires us to prove negligence; we need to show it’s more likely than not: (1) the defendant owed you a duty to use reasonable care, (2) breach of the duty to use reasonable care, (3) causation, and (4) damages.

There are situations in which other elements must also be proven. For example, in a medical malpractice or a birth injury case we would need to establish what the professional standard of care was. Similarly in a premises liability case, we may need to prove that a property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous property condition that resulted in the death of a loved one.


In some instances, it is also appropriate to seek punitive damages for wrongful death. These are damages intended to punish and deter wrongdoing and are awarded when the defendant has committed egregious misconduct. For example, if your son was killed by a drunk truck driver, it may be appropriate to request punitive damages.

Consult a Seasoned Wrongful Death Attorney

If a loved one died through the fault of another, the experienced Syracuse wrongful death lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Attorneys, who have more than 30 years of experience, may be able to represent you. Moreover, your right to damages may be expanded under the Grieving Families Act. We’ve recovered more than $100 million in personal injury awards and settlements. We represent families of those who have died in Buffalo, Albany, Auburn, Wampsville, Oneida, Rochester, Utica, Watertown, Lowville, Elmira, Oswego, Canandaigua, Lyons, Ithaca, Cooperstown, Herkimer, and Binghamton. Complete our online form or call us at 833-200-2000.

Client Reviews
"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
"I highly recommend DeFrancisco & Falgiatano - Charlie represented me for a medical malpractice case. He is the best of the best. He is friendly and I am very happy with the representation he provided." Roger N., Oneida, NY