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What Should I Know About Florida’s Tort Reform?

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The government is constantly working on updating laws and introducing new legislation. One of the most recent changes in Florida occurred on February 15, 2023, which saw HB 837 introduced into the Florida House of Representatives. It was recently signed into law by Governor DeSantis. This bill changes how civil litigation occurs in Florida. Keep reading to learn about this tort reform and how a Broward County personal injury attorney can help you navigate any issues you may encounter with your injury claim.

What Changes Are Included in This Tort Reform?

While there were many changes included in this bill, one of the most significant is that Florida changed how they handle comparative negligence. In the past, Florida operated under pure comparative negligence laws, meaning a plaintiff could collect compensation for their injuries, even if they were responsible for 90% of the accident. For example, if an injured party sustained $100,000 worth of damage, but was determined to be 90% liable, they could collect 10% of the damages.

However, under HB 837, this pure comparative negligence system has shifted to modified comparative negligence. Essentially, this means anyone 50% or more responsible for the accident that led to an injury is not eligible to collect damages. However, those who are 49% or less liable are still eligible to file a personal injury claim.

It is vital to note that this tort reform does not affect medical malpractice or negligence cases.

Another significant change impacting those injured in accidents is that the statute of limitations has been lowered under this tort reform. Previously, an injured party would have four years to file a lawsuit against the negligent party, while they only have two years to file a suit under this reform. This means you must file a claim before the second anniversary of an accident, otherwise, you will no longer be able to pursue compensation.

What Else Should I Know?

Aside from those two significant changes, it’s also important to understand that you may experience a difference in attorney fees. For example, there is now language that makes it so a contingency fee multiplier will only be awarded in rare and exceptional circumstances. Similarly, HB 837 strongly implies that a lodestar fee is reasonable and appropriate when these fees are determined by the court.

Finally, it is worth noting that this bill only affects accidents that happen after the effective date of this act. This means those currently in the process of pursuing claims for personal injuries are not subjected to these changes.

There are several changes that can impact you as a result of this reform. If you have questions or are in need of assistance pursuing a personal injury claim, you’ll want to reach out to the Finizio Law Group. Our dedicated legal team has reviewed these changes, and we are ready to help guide you in the right direction under these new statutes. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.

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