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  • Writer's pictureLeitner Varughese Warywoda

New York Wrongful Death Lawyers Explain The Grieving Families Act: Why Our Friend Gary's Fight Matters

Updated: May 5

Wrongful Death Lawyers

The Grieving Families Act - Our dear friend, Gary Falkowitz, experienced unimaginable loss when his son, Ethan, was tragically killed in a horrific accident on May 3, 2023. Ethan and his friend Drew Hassenbein died when an intoxicated driver, Amandeep Singh, was traveling the wrong way at 95 mph and crashed into the vehicle carrying them and two other friends. Singh, who was also high on cocaine, had nearly twice the legal blood-alcohol limit. This unspeakable tragedy is the driving force behind Gary's relentless work to advocate for the Grieving Families Act.

The heartbreaking story of Gary Falkowitz lays bare the profound injustice of New York's wrongful death statute. His 15-year-old son was tragically taken from him in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Yet, the current law severely limits the damages available to Gary and his family simply because his son was a student and not yet earning an income.

This underscores the urgent need for New York to modernize its wrongful death laws. The Grieving Families Act, a bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the state legislature, would do just that. However, Governor Hochul refuses to sign the bill, seemingly beholden to insurance companies and special interests rather than the will of the people she serves.

New York's Archaic Approach to Wrongful Death

When someone's death is caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another, it's distinct from any criminal charges. Civil lawsuits for wrongful death aim to compensate families for their losses. Tragically, in New York, the law calculates damages primarily based on the victim's economic contributions, their lost wages and earning potential.

The Painful Reality for Families

This cold calculation of a life's worth adds immeasurable pain to an already devastating loss. Gary Falkowitz is forced to relive the tragedy of his son's death while simultaneously confronted with the state's assertion that his child's life held limited value. This cruel system disregards the deep grief and the loss of a child's irreplaceable love and companionship.

A Child's Life is Priceless

The notion that a child's life holds less value because they are not yet income earners is morally bankrupt. A child represents limitless potential lost, dreams left unfulfilled, and the shattering of a family's future. New York's law fails to recognize the emotional devastation of parents and the loss of guidance and support they would have received as they aged.

The Promise and Stalemate of the Grieving Families Act

The Grieving Families Act would change this. It aims to modernize New York's wrongful death law by allowing juries to consider the grief and suffering of loved ones, aligning it with more just approaches in other states. Its overwhelming passage by the legislature speaks to the resounding support for this change by New Yorkers. Yet, Governor Hochul blocks it, seemingly prioritizing the deep pockets of insurance lobbyists over the needs of grieving families.

It's Time for Change

We must hold Governor Hochul accountable. Contact her office and demand she signs the Grieving Families Act into law. Share this post to raise awareness about this injustice and support organizations advocating for change.

The Falkowitz family, and countless others, endure unimaginable pain compounded by an unjust law. Can we truly put a price tag on the life of a child? In the eyes of families and the state legislature, the answer is a resounding "no." Governor Hochul should heed the call for compassion and fairness. Every life should have equal weight under the law.

Contact Our New York Wrongful Death Lawyers Now

At Leitner Varughese Warywoda, our wrongful death lawyers understand the complexity of wrongful death cases and the added difficulties stemming from New York's outdated statute. If you have suffered a devastating loss, contact us for compassionate guidance and tireless advocacy.

email: | voice call: (212) 671-1110 | text message: (631) 886-4260


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