New York: The physicians of New York State have commended Governor Kathy Hochul for her nuanced approach towards changes proposed in the wrongful death legislation.
Hochul Jan 31 vetoed a bill that would have allowed wrongful death lawsuits to include claims for emotional damage, a change that could have led to much bigger payouts for fatal accidents and deadly medical errors.
“The physicians of New York state are grateful to Governor Hochul for her careful consideration of the legislation to greatly expand the awards in actions for wrongful death,” Parag Mehta, President of the Medical Society of the State of New York said.
The bill, which had strong bipartisan support when it passed the Legislature last year, would have brought New York into line with a majority of other states that allow courts to consider emotional pain when calculating how much a lost life was worth.
Under current state law, the amount someone can get in a wrongful death lawsuit in New York is largely determined by the potential future income of the person who died — a cold calculation that values the life of a person with a high-paying job far more than someone making minimum wage.
Those rules usually mean lower payouts for the deaths of older people whose working years are behind them, and for children whose future earnings potential is unknowable.
In a letter to the state Senate explaining her veto, Hochul, said that while the bill’s goals were laudable, the legislation had passed without enough evaluation of its “massive” potential impact on small businesses and the state’s health care system.
“We thank Governor Hochul for putting patients first and protecting the healthcare needs of every New Yorker by calling for a more scaled back version of this legislation,” Mehta said.