On Friday, March 24, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law House Bill H.B. 837, which enacts major tort reform within the state. Supporters of the legislation say that the reforms were necessary to reduce frivolous lawsuits and limit the hidden costs associated with protracted litigation against insurance companies, which they say drives up the costs of goods and services for Florida families.
Some of the major reforms include:
- Changing Florida’s comparative negligence law, which formerly allowed plaintiffs to recover damages even if they were primarily at fault in causing their own harm. Now, Florida will use a modified comparative negligence law, which provides that a party found to be greater than 50% at fault in their own harm may not recover any damages.
- Adding express statutory language that negligence alone on the part of an insurer does not constitute bad faith and requiring a claimant to act in good faith in attempting to settle the claim.
- Eliminating Florida’s one-way attorney fee provision, which entitled an insured to reasonable attorney’s fees in any suit in which recovery was awarded.
- Cutting the statute of limitations for negligence cases from four years to two years.
- Expanding immunity for property owners who are sued by a criminal actor who was injured on the property.
- Providing uniform standards for juries in calculating medical damages.
Opponents claim that the legislation is a gift to insurance companies and does not protect individual Floridians’ rights. However, it is important to note that Florida is now in line with Georgia and many other states with passage of these changes. For example, Georgia already implements a modified comparative negligence rule, and the state’s statute of limitations for negligence cases is two years.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman have extensive litigation experience in federal and state courts in Georgia and Florida. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.