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Your Guide to Florida Tort Reform HB 837

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Here’s How Florida’s Personal Injury Laws Have Changed

If you’re injured because someone else is negligent in a traffic accident or in some other accident scenario, and if you bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party with help from a Miami personal injury attorney, you will need to know about the reforms that have been made this year to Florida’s personal injury laws.

These reforms are already Florida law. They went into effect when Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 837, known as the Tort Reform Act, on March 24, 2023. The changes affect personal injury claims, insurance bad faith claims, inadequate security claims, and much more.

Exactly what changes have been made, and how will those changes affect personal injury cases (and personal injury victims) in Florida? What will you need to know if you become a personal injury victim? When should you contact a Miami personal injury lawyer?

Keep reading this short discussion of House Bill 837 for the answers to these questions and a brief summary of the changes that the new law brings.

At-Fault Accident Victims May No Longer Recover Damages

Under the “comparative fault” principle in Florida law, each party in an accident is assigned a percentage of the fault. Under “pure” comparative negligence, even if you are more than fifty percent at-fault for an accident, you may still recover a percentage of your damages.

However, House Bill 837 changes Florida from a “pure” comparative negligence state to a “modified” comparative negligence state. Now, a plaintiff who is assigned more than fifty percent of the fault for an accident cannot recover damages.

This provision of House Bill 837 brings Florida into line with a majority of the states, where “modified” comparative negligence is already the standard, with the exception that the new Florida standard will not apply to medical malpractice cases.

Additionally, the new legislation provides uniform standards for juries to calculate accurately the value of medical damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases.

The Statute of Limitations Period Has Been Reduced

House Bill 837 changes the statute of limitations period for personal injury cases based on negligence from four years to two years, unless the plaintiff in the case is serving active military duty.

The change will apply only to personal injuries sustained after March 24, 2023, the day that House Bill 837 took effect.

However, if you’ve been injured because someone else was negligent, don’t wait two years or even two weeks to contact a Miami personal injury attorney. As soon as a medical provider has treated you, contact an attorney at once.

How Are Attorneys’ Fees Affected?

House Bill 837 eliminates Florida’s “one-way” attorney fee provision, which allowed plaintiffs whose personal injury claims prevail against insurance companies to recover their attorneys’ fees and costs from those insurance companies.

Under House Bill 837, the policyholder will be responsible for paying his or her own attorney’s fees, either by paying a lawyer’s hourly rate or by paying a contingency fee, which is a percentage of whatever the policyholder wins from the insurance company.

Negligence Alone No Longer Constitutes Insurance Bad Faith

When you buy an insurance policy, the insurance company agrees to provide the protection specified in the policy if you pay your premiums. If the insurance company does not provide that protection, the company is considered to be operating in bad faith.

However, under House Bill 837, an insurance company’s negligence alone no longer constitutes bad faith and is no longer sufficient grounds for filing a bad faith claim. This provision will make it more difficult to sue an insurance company that handles your claim negligently.

Additionally, House Bill 837 allows an insurance company to limit its bad faith liability when there are multiple claimants in a single action by paying the total policy amount before negotiations for a settlement begin.

Several lawmakers have expressed concerns that the new definition of insurance bad faith will expose businesses to million-dollar judgments if their insurance companies do not settle a claim quickly.

Landlords Gain Protection Against Inadequate Security Claims

Florida residents and their visitors are targeted by criminals every day. Some of these crimes – and some of the injuries sustained by the victims – could have been prevented if property owners had provided adequate security.

House Bill 837 insulates the owner of a multi-family dwelling from liability in cases that involve injuries inflicted by criminals on the premises, provided that the owner has taken reasonable steps to secure the multi-family dwelling by taking the specific security measures required by House Bill 837.

The security measures that owners of multi-family dwellings should take under House Bill 837 include the installation of:

  1.  a deadbolt of at least one inch on unit doors
  2.  dusk-to-dawn lighting in parking lots, walkways, and all other common areas
  3.  locks on windows, exterior sliding doors, and other doors not for community use
  4.  peephole or door viewers on unit doors that do not have windows
  5.  security cameras at entrances and exits (Video must be kept for at least thirty days.)

Will House Bill 837 Reduce Insurance Rates?

House Bill 837 is sweeping legislation that includes many other important changes to personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice laws in the State of Florida.

Governor DeSantis claims that House Bill 837 will reduce the high number of lawsuits against insurance companies and thus drive down insurance rates for Floridians, although no evidence has been produced that would substantiate that claim.

Have You Been Injured By Someone Else’s Negligence?

A Miami personal injury lawyer at Galimidi Law will understand the anxiety and apprehension that may be caused by these substantial changes to Florida’s personal injury laws. We stay fully abreast of legislative changes and current judicial rulings in order to provide our clients with effective legal representation.

If you have been injured in South Florida by someone else’s negligence, if a member of your family has been lost in a wrongful death, or if you have been injured in a crime that was committed on someone else’s property – or if any of this happens to you in the future – call Galimidi Law at once at 305-692-0125 for a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation.

When you become a client of the award-winning legal team at Galimidi Law, you are treated with complete respect and offered every professional consideration. You will pay us nothing upfront, and you’ll pay no attorney’s fee to Galimidi Law until and unless you are compensated.

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