Unless you work in the legal field, you may not be aware of a measure recently passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by the governor. However, if you are the victim of any type of accident in the state, the new statute could have profound impacts on your rights. Florida lawmakers enacted a tort reform measure in March 2023, which contains multiple provisions that change civil remedies and damages in personal injury cases. The biggest supporters of the law celebrated when it went into effect, namely the insurance companies that will always try to find ways to pay victims as little as possible.
If you were hurt in an accident, there are three key provisions in the new law that affect your claim. You can count on your Miami personal injury attorney to tackle the challenges, as well as the other complexities that arise in any case. Still, to give you a better understanding of this tort reform, some basics are useful.
Three Important Takeaways from Florida Tort Reform
House Bill 837 contains numerous provisions, but there are a few that have a significant impact on accident and personal injury cases based on negligence:
- The statute of limitations in Florida is now two years, where it used to be four years. Plaintiffs have less time to file a lawsuit in court, and they are barred from recovering compensation if they miss the deadline.
- There are implications with proving medical costs, preventing plaintiffs from seeking more than what was paid by private insurers, Medicare/Medicaid.
- The biggest change with recent tort reform affects Florida’s law on comparative fault. Before the new law, you could recover monetary damages even if you were negligent in causing the accident. Victims could be up to 99% at fault and still obtain compensation.
Now, a plaintiff is barred from recovering any monetary damages if they were more than 50% responsible for causing the incident. The question goes before the jury to determine which party contributed more on a percentage basis.
Examples of Comparative Fault
Because the change to the statute is so significant, it is important to review some examples of comparative negligence.
- A car accident victim might receive zero compensation if they were intoxicated, even if the other driver ran a red light.
- Motorcyclists who engage in lane splitting will likely not recover damages.
- A pedestrian who jaywalks or a bicyclist who violates traffic laws might face challenges.
- If you ignore a warning or “Do Not Enter” sign at a store, restaurant, or office, a jury may apply the contributory fault law to deny compensation.
Rely on a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
Tort reform is an ongoing debate, and our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA, stays current on the developments that affect our clients. To learn more about how we assist accident victims, please call (305) 371-6000 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.