Florida Institutes Sweeping Tort Reform
In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that would make major changes to Florida’s rules for personal injury lawsuits. These changes are meant to protect businesses from “frivolous” lawsuits. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the changes taking place and how they could affect personal injury lawsuits in the future.
Changes to negligence rules
The new reforms will two things:
- Reduce the statute of limitations from 4 years to 2
- Move from comparative negligence to contributory negligence
The new law includes numerous provisions which will change the process of bringing personal injury claims in various ways. Some of the changes are easily understood – like the reduction of the statute of limitations from 4 years to 2 years – while other changes are more complicated and require some unpacking – such as the move from a comparative negligence system to one more similar to a contributory negligence framework.
Before, Florida operated on a system of pure comparative negligence which meant that even if you were 99% liable for an injury, you could still file a lawsuit to recover 1% of your total damages. With contributory negligence, there is some cap on the amount of liability that a plaintiff can have been responsible for while still being permitted to recover on a negligence claim. The new Florida rules will place that cap at 50%. In other words, if a jury finds that you are more than 50% liable for your injuries, you will not be able to recover any money from the lawsuit whatsoever.
Protecting insurance companies from bad faith claims
Lawsuits against insurance companies are now also harder to file. In some cases, insurance companies operate in bad faith both toward their policyholders, leading to the policyholders filing bad faith claims against the insurer. Under the new law, those lawsuits will be more difficult to win. As part of the new rules, negligent conduct by an insurance company can no longer constitute evidence of bad faith.
Further, liability insurances are now immune from bad faith lawsuits under specific circumstances in cases where they offer a claimant the lesser of a policy limit or the amount that the claimant demands within 90 days of receiving notice of the claim.
Negligent security claims
Negligent security claims are now also more difficult to win against apartment complexes. Now, in order to prove a case, the plaintiff would have to establish that specific security requirements on the premises were not met. If the security standards are met, then the plaintiff would no longer have a basis for a claim under circumstances in which a crime was committed against them.
The new statute will also limit the recovery of past and future medical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit which will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to have their medical expenses paid for.
All of the new provisions are very defendant-friendly and will not help injured parties. In fact, the policy changes could, and almost certainly will, prevent injured individuals from being able to pay for medical expenses arising from injuries caused by somebody else’s negligence. This will prevent them from receiving the medical care they require and may result in them going into medical debt.
Talk to a Tampa, FL Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Palmer | Lopez represents the interests of Tampa, FL residents who have been injured due to acts of negligence. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.