On Friday, March 17, 2023, the Florida House of Representatives passed House Bill 837 with a vote of 80-31, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce. HB 837 received Senate approval, and Governor Ron DeSantis signed it, as well. The new modified comparative negligence system took effect on March 24, 2023.
Similar legislation, Senate Bill 236, sponsored by Senator Travis Hutson, a Republican from Palm Coast, differs slightly but has passed three committees by large margins and awaits action on the Senate floor. These bills mark the most significant tort reform attempts in recent history in Florida. These reforms place tighter deadlines on lawsuits, making it more difficult for individuals to document some damages and protecting businesses and insurance companies from having to pay large payouts.
How Will The Florida Tort Reform Bill 2023 Change Personal Injury Cases For Victims?
The Florida tort reform of 2023 will fundamentally alter how accident victims, their attorneys, insurance companies, and liable parties approach these cases. Historically, Florida’s tort laws favored victims. Plaintiffs and policyholders had an advantage in these cases, with the laws supporting these individuals instead of insurance companies and liable parties.
HB 837 has several parts, and this bill will effectively do the following:
- Modify the state’s comparative negligence statute so those more than 50 percent at at-fault in an incident cannot recover damages
- Standardize what is necessary to prove medical care costs in some cases
- Reduce the statute of limitations for many personal injury cases from four years to just two years
- Rework how policyholders fight bad-faith actions
- Prevent victims from hold a property owner solely liable in some negligent security cases
- Change how attorney’s fees are handled as a part of court awards
Most of these changes would benefit the insurance companies instead of policyholders and liable parties instead of victims. In some cases, these new laws would alter how a law firm approaches a case and the steps necessary to recover fair compensation for their clients. Sometimes, those who were eligible to pursue and secure damages before could not if their injuries occurred after these changes.
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Understanding The Background Of Florida’s Tort Reform Bills In 2023
When Governor Ron DeSantis, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, and House Speaker Paul Renner announced the efforts to pass tort reform during the 2023 session, they said they had these goals in mind:
- Decreasing frivolous lawsuits
- Preventing predatory trial attorneys from taking advantage of Floridians
They claimed the bills would help small businesses, truckers, and others. HB 837 was sponsored by District 72 Representative Tommy Gregory, a Republican representing a part of Manatee County and the current Judiciary Committee Chair.
HB 837, introduced in the Florida House of Representatives on February 15, fundamentally changes the state’s tort statutes, governing case law, and laws related to insurance bad faith. This will alter how both plaintiffs and defendants approach these cases.
What Are Tort Laws?
Tort laws come into play when one party’s negligence causes another to suffer injuries and/or financial damages. We frequently refer to these as civil cases or personal injury cases. In Florida, you generally have the right to pursue compensation for the damages you suffered because of someone else’s bad behavior. This often comes from an insurance claim based on the at-fault party’s liability policy or a civil lawsuit.
Under HB 837, most of the changes from this tort reform will only apply to cases after the effective date, possibly July 1, 2023. However, acting quickly is still a good idea if you believe you might have a case and have not yet discussed your options with an attorney. This is the best way to protect your rights and ensure you can still pursue damages in your case.
Some aspects of the law could apply to ongoing issues if you do not act before the likely effective date. Your attorney will know when you need to file a lawsuit or take other action to seek justice under the current laws.
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How A Lawyer Can Help In Light Of The Florida Tort Reform Bill Of 2023
As with any personal injury case, a lawyer’s job is always to make the legal process less complicated for you. They work to gather evidence of another party’s liability and your accident-related losses to seek fair compensation. The Florida Tort Reform Bill of 2023 just makes the whole process more complicated, which only adds to the stress of handling a case on your own.
While you rest, a personal injury lawyer from our firm can handle the paperwork and communications required in your claim or lawsuit.
Concerned About How The Florida Tort Reform Bill Will Affect Your Case? Contact Our Team
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we go the extra mile for our clients. We understand how frustrating and distressing it can be to feel helpless or not know where to turn after an injury. Our team can explain your options, how the current laws could affect your recovery, and more. You were hurt. We can help.
Contact us now to learn more. We offer free consultations.
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