How Florida’s Tort Reform Bill Could Affect You
At the end of March, Florida’s Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 837 into law. The tort reform law has officially gone into effect and will impact civil cases across the state. Read on to learn more about how the new tort reform bill could affect your own legal claim.
What is House Bill 837?
House Bill 837 is essentially a lawsuit reform bill that was designed to help protect businesses and property owners from being subject to overly high damages awards. Its most important changes include:
- A reduction in the statute of limitations for the filing of cases based on claims of general negligence from four to two years;
- A limitation on the kinds of evidence that can be used to prove damages for past and future medical bills;
- A change from the use of a pure comparative fault standard to a modified fault standard, which means that claimants who are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for their injuries will be barred from recovery of personal injury damages (with the exception of medical malpractice claims);
- The establishment of a strong presumption for the charging of attorney’s fees based on rates and hours and not on a contingency multiplier standard;
- The elimination of a policyholder’s statutory right to recover attorney fees upon prevailing in a legal claim against an insurer, unless the case involved a declaratory judgment to determine coverage; and
- Allowing jurors who are deliberating in premises liability cases to consider the fault of those who contributed to an injury, including non-parties who committed a crime on the defendant’s premises.
Most of these provisions apply to any legal claims filed after the bill’s effective date, which was March 24, 2023. The amendment to the statute of limitations, however, will apply prospectively to all cases that accrued after that date.
The Impact of House Bill 837
The impact of the law won’t fully be realized until the changes have had a chance to actually go through the court system. We can expect, however, for there to be significant consequences for plaintiffs across the state of Florida, who now have less time to file legal claims and a much higher chance of receiving a lower damages award, or from being barred from recovery entirely.
Although aimed at reducing the number of “frivolous” civil lawsuits filed in Florida, opponents of the bill also argue that the new changes will make it much harder for the average person to file legal claims when wronged by insurers, who now have protection to underpay policyholders or even to refuse to pay an injured claimant at all.
Call Boone & Davis Today
If you have questions about the newly enacted tort reform law and how it could affect your own legal rights and options following an accident, feel free to call 954-566-9919 and set up a free consultation with one of the dedicated Florida personal injury lawyers at Boone & Davis today. You can also contact a member of our legal team via online message.