Are wrongful death lawsuits against physicians becoming easier?

Efforts are being made in certain U.S. states to broaden the types of individuals who can sue physicians for wrongful death, according to a March 9 report from Medscape

A bill in New York recently aimed to expand the definition of "family members" in wrongful death lawsuits, including spouses, domestic partners, children, parents, stepparents, siblings, grandparents and more. It would have allowed for lawsuits in which juries could determine what defined a "close family member" of the deceased patient. 

The bill failed when it was not signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. The bill would have also expanded damages to include "loss of affection" and "loss of companionship" in wrongful death suits. It would have also expanded the wrongful death statute of limitations by a year and a half. 

Since New York's legislature was in strong support of the bill, state groups expect to see similar pieces of legislation introduced in the future. 

Currently, every state allows for wrongful death claims to be filed by immediate family members, including spouses and parents. 

If this new bill had passed in New York, physicians would potentially be faced with more liability and higher costs in potential wrongful death cases, according to the report. 

The Medical Society of the State of New York fought against the bill, while AARP and the New York Immigration Coalition stood in support. 

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