New Tort Reform Law Changes What Kinds Of Medical Bills Are Admissible At Trial
Last month, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 837 into law, instituting a number of sweeping changes to tort law across the state of Florida. One of these changes limits the types of evidence that plaintiffs can use when attempting to prove damages for their injury-related medical treatment, whether those payments are for past or future treatment.
Admissible Evidence of Past Medical Bills
The passage of House Bill 837 created a set of uniform standards that are intended to help juries when calculating a plaintiff’s medical damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases. In effect, these changes mean that plaintiffs will be limited to providing evidence of past medical bills to records that show the amounts actually paid for services, regardless of the source of the payment. This means that if a full medical bill for past services was paid by an insurer, only the amount paid will be admissible as evidence at trial. The initial billed amount, on the other hand, can’t be used as evidence.
The law also affects the admissibility of evidence to prove amounts of past unpaid medical bills. What types of evidence can be used, however, will depend on the plaintiff’s healthcare coverage. If, for instance, a plaintiff does have health insurance (or qualifies for it), then he or she can submit evidence of the amount that an insurer would be obligated to pay the healthcare providers for medical services rendered under the policyholder’s contract.
Admissible Evidence of Future Medical Bills
The new tort reform bill also changes the type of evidence that can be submitted to prove damages for future medical care. Plaintiffs with healthcare insurance, or those who are eligible for healthcare insurance, can only submit evidence of the amount for which future charges could be satisfied by the insurer. Those without coverage, or who have Medicare or Medicaid, on the other hand, can only submit evidence of:
- 120 percent of the Medicare reimbursement rate for treatment or services that a plaintiff will receive; or
- 170 percent of the state Medicaid rate (if there isn’t an applicable Medicare rate).
For help assessing how these changes could affect your own personal injury case, reach out to our legal team today.
Amount of Damages Recoverable
Besides dictating what types of medical bills can be presented to prove damages, House Bill 837 also forbids juries from awarding damages that exceed certain amounts, namely the amount:
- Actually paid by a plaintiff to a healthcare provider;
- That is necessary to satisfy charges for unpaid services; and
- Required to pay for reasonable and necessary future medical care.
Call our office today if you have questions about how these limitations could impact your own damages award at trial.
Contact the Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Boone & Davis Today
To speak with one of our experienced Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys about the tort reform law recently enacted in Florida, call Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 today. You can also set up a free case review by reaching out to us via online message.