The Florida House of Representatives has introduced a proposed bill, HB 837, which aims to change how damages are calculated in negligence lawsuits. The proposed changes will impact damage calculations and evidentiary rulings in cases ranging from car accidents to slip and falls, premises liability, and beyond. Overall, the proposed law will dramatically shift the landscape of personal injury cases in Florida.
HB 837 seeks to change Florida’s negligence-based damage recovery system from using pure comparative negligence to modified comparative negligence. Proponents of the bill argue that the proposed changes will curb rampant lawsuit abuse in the state. However, many people and industries opposed to the bill arguing that the bill reduces protections for individuals while strengthening protections for corporations.
While the Florida House is still debating and amending the bill, the following is a summary of the proposed changes as of this article’s writing.
- Reduced statute of limitations
- Change from pure to modified comparative negligence
- Modification of bad faith laws
- Medical damage caps
- Reduction of who can be held accountable
- Presumption against fee multipliers
- Modification of evidentiary rules
CHANGES TO THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Currently, the statute of limitations for negligence claims in Florida is four years. Under HB 837, the statute of limitations will be reduced by two years, allowing claimants only two years from the time of the incident to file a lawsuit.
CHANGE FROM PURE TO MODIFIED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE
A key feature of the bill is to modify the current legal system to only allow for damage recovery if the victim is less than 50% responsible for the harm. This means that victims who are found to be more than 50% responsible for the incident would not be able to recover damages from the other party.
WHAT IS COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE?
Comparative negligence means that the compensation from a defendant may be altered based upon how much responsibility or fault is considered the plaintiff held in the accident. Florida currently uses pure comparative negligence, which means that even if a person is mostly to blame, they can still recover proportionate damages from a party who causes them harm.
WHAT IS MODIFIED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE?
House Bill 837 threatens to make significant modifications to Florida’s existing legal framework. If passed, anyone found to be 51% liable for an incident will not receive any damages.
MODIFICATION OF BAD FAITH LAWS
Many organizations and Floridians have deep concerns about the proposed changes to the existing bad faith laws. These laws are established to ensure that the insured are protected from unscrupulous business practices by insurance companies.
MEDICAL DAMAGE CAPS
Currently, in Florida, if a person is injured because of another’s negligence, the injured party can collect the actual dollar value of their medical treatment as damages. If passed, the changes in HB 837 would limit the monetary recovery available to injured individuals.
As of the writing of this article, the Florida House is still debating and amending the bill.
*UPDATE: March 24, 2023 Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 837.
Please note that laws and regulations can change over time, and the information provided in this article may not reflect the most up-to-date legal developments. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have been involved in a car accident or are considering pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can provide you with the most current and accurate information.
For more information call Zebersky Payne Shaw Lewenz, LLP at 954-989-6333