Tort Reform in Florida
Earlier this month members of the Florida House of Representatives introduced a tort reform bill, H.B. 837. Since then, both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate have passed the provisions. The bill was officially signed into law Friday, March 24, 2023 by Gov. Ron DeSantis and will become effective on or around July 1, 2023. This bill makes significant changes to the Florida Insurance landscape.
Key provisions in the bill:
- Repeals one-way attorney fee provisions. This could result in claimants owing the carrier's defense costs.
- Reduces the statute of limitations from four years to two years excluding medical malpractice claims.
- Changes Florida’s comparative negligence system from a “pure” comparative negligence system to a “modified” system so that a plaintiff who is more at-fault for their injuries may generally not recover damages.
- Eliminates fee multipliers, which have allowed plaintiffs’ attorneys to use a multiplier on top of a “Lodestar” fee thereby securing higher fees when they prevail in litigation.
- Policy limits equal damage limits. The claimants will be entitled to a prorated share, as determined by the court or arbitrator in the case.
- No more attorney-client privilege on treating physicians for plaintiffs. There is no attorney-client privilege when a communication is relevant to the lawyer’s act of referring the client for treatment by a health care provider.
- Medical costs must be real. If the injured party has health care insurance, the amount paid by insurance should be explained and damages should not be based on unsupported medical estimates.
- Letters of protection. All letters of protection, would be divulged in the personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit proceedings. Doctors’ bills would have to be itemized and must include procedure codes where possible.
- Bad-faith claims. Mere negligence would not be sufficient to sustain a bad-faith action. It requires a good faith effort for a claimant to furnish information.
As a result, plaintiffs’ attorneys have been filing lawsuits in the thousands prior to the July 1st effective date.
-Information provided by BKS Partners, 3/29/2023
Click Here for HB 873 Bill
Resources and more information: