Florida just passed a new law that seeks to significantly limit your rights to bring lawsuits for personal injuries. The Florida has legislature has just passed a new tort reform bill that is bringing historic changes to the legal system in Florida.
The bill is HB837, aimed at “tort reform,” or reforming the state’s laws with regard to lawsuits for negligence. The bill makes a number of changes to the law, but significantly limits your rights in three ways.
1. The bill reduces Florida’s negligence statute of limitations from four years to two.
Up until now, citizens have had four years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit for personal injuries caused by someone’s negligence. (Florida Statutes §95.11) Now, that time frame is being cut in half to two. Two years may sound like a long time, but sometimes the true nature of injuries can take a while to show up, and weeks and months can go by before you’re able to be seen by a doctor. It also takes lawyers some time to investigate and prepare your case for litigation. It’s important to know that now, if you’re injured, the clock starts ticking and if you fail to file a lawsuit within 2 years, you will lose your right to the court system forever.
2. The bill limits the amount of your medical bills that you are allowed to show to the jury at trial.
Up until now, in a personal injury case in Florida, you can attempt to recover the full amount of your medical bills that you have incurred due to your injuries. Almost everyone who’s had medical treatment knows that it is not cheap – bills for treatment at the ER and from doctors, chiropractors, and therapists can easily run into the tens of thousands. If you don’t have health insurance, or even if you do in some cases, your medical bills from an accident can be a stressful burden. The new bill will mean that you will only be able to show the jury part of your medical bills and ask for partial recovery, which could leave you owing your doctors huge amounts of money that you may be unable to pay.
3. The bill changes Florida from a pure comparative fault state to a modified comparative fault state.
Pure comparative fault means that if you were partially responsible for your own injuries, the jury is asked to assign a percentage of fault to you and a percentage of fault to the other negligent party. The other negligent party then has to pay the percentage of your damages that they caused. Even if you were 99% responsible for causing your own damages, the other negligent party would have to pay you for the 1% of the damages that they caused. Now, if the jury finds that you were more than 50% at fault for your own damages, you do not get anything. For example, a jury could now find that a negligent person or company is 49% responsible for your injuries, and they are allowed to go free without paying you anything.
This pending bill has caused lawyers all over the state to start flooding the courts with lawsuits. As of today, nearly 70,000 new lawsuits have been filed in Florida since Monday, March 20. To put that in perspective, there were only 48,446 car accident and negligence cases filed in all of 2021 in Florida. In addition to the changes to the law, this unprecedented flood of lawsuits is going to backlog the court system for years and cause delays in citizens getting their day in court.
The experienced lawyers at The Fina Law Firm understand the nuances of the changing law and have the knowledge and ingenuity to get you justice! If you’ve been injured, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have. If you’d like to set up a free consultation today, give us a call at 904-878-2379 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.