In a call for “heels on the ground,” attorney Colleen Meenan traveled to Albany on April 21, 2015, to join with other members of the Women’s Caucus of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association to lobby over two days with various state legislators. The female lawyers joined together with male colleagues to advance the rights of injured workers, marginalized families and consumer interests.
Specific statutes were targeted by the attorneys as important. New York’s Wrongful Death Law was enacted in 1847 and has not been updated to reflect the full scope of damages caused by the unnecessary death of a loved one. Many other states allow grieving families to be compensated for the profound emotional pain and suffering they endure due to such unfortunate loss. An amendment to the archaic wrongful death law would permit survivors to recover non-economic damages in cases where the deceased was a victim of negligent or unlawful conduct. The law as it currently stands values high wage earners over those who have little or nothing, such as children, homemakers and senior citizens. At the same time, the existing law has ignored the emotional damages of a wrongful death on the family, such as anguish, grief, loss of affection, and loss of guidance and counsel.
The goal of this amendment, referred to as the Grieving Families’ Law, and those trial lawyers who assembled to urge its passage, is to hold accountable wrongdoers for the full harm they have caused to grieving families for who have lost a loved one.
The lawyers also addressed expanding the time by which a claim for medical malpractice must be filed in court. This would afford victims who have been misdiagnosed additional time needed to begin a civil action. Misdiagnosis most often occurs in cases involving cancer. A radiologist or a doctor may fail to incorrectly interpret a mammogram report or a CT scan with devastating consequences. The Discovery Date amendment would permit such an aggrieved individual the right to bring an action when they learn or should have known that a mistake was made.
Also discussed was an amendment to the insurance law known as the Auto Insurance Fairness Act which would force the insurance industry to disclose helpful information about insurance coverage to consumers. In addition, the Responsible No Fault Claims Act is important in limiting the ability of insurance carriers to control the no fault process.
Trial lawyers see the pain and suffering injured individuals endure, often without adequate compensation. They see first hand the devastating effects when consumers are not properly advised by insurance carriers that their coverage is not adequate in the event of a serious injury. These advocates know how important it is to give a voice to the voiceless and advance the interests of those less fortunate who suffer most of all. Unlike the real estate industry, big business and corporations, working families and injured individuals cannot afford to employ lobbyists and political PACS to influence the legislative process in Albany. Rather, they rely on their attorneys to obtain justice, both in the courts and in the legislature.
Whether their efforts will prove effective has yet to be determined. However, keeping silent in the face of injustice is not an option for these lawyers.