On February 15, 2023, Florida passed a bill that will historically change the state’s civil litigation landscape. Between a modified comparative negligence system to a modified statute of limitations, this is a lot to unpack from this single bill. Continue reading to learn the key takeaways from the tort reform and how an experienced Hillsborough County personal injury lawyer at Merricks Law Group, P.A. can walk you through this.
What are the main takeaways from Florida’s tort reform?
The two biggest takeaways from Florida’s tort reform are the modified compared negligence system and the modified statute of limitations.
With the reform, the state of Florida now follows a modified comparative negligence system where a plaintiff cannot recover damages from a defendant if they are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for their accident. Whereas previously, a pure comparative negligence system was followed so that a plaintiff can recover damages based on the comparative fault of others. For example, if a plaintiff was found to be 40 percent at fault for their accident, they could still receive financial compensation for 60 percent of their damages.
Additionally, the state of Florida now follows a reduced statute of limitations at two years from the date of a personal injury accident. And once these two years pass, a plaintiff is no longer eligible for financial compensation or to hold a negligent party accountable. This is a significant change from the previous deadline of four years, which meant that a plaintiff had a whole four years to bring their claim forward.
It is important to note that this modified statute of limitations does not apply to medical malpractice claims, which is still set at four years from the date of the medical negligence incident. And speaking of medical malpractice claims, this reform has created a condition precedent for asserting a claim for medical expenses. In other words, this will require a claimant to disclose a copy of the letter of protection and who made the referral, all itemized billings for medical expenses, and whether they had health care coverage, among other things.
What else should I know about this bill?
With all that being said, below are additional changes that come with Florida’s tort reform:
- It modifies the “bad faith” framework to clarify that negligence alone is not enough to demonstrate bad faith.
- It states that the contingency fee multiplier for an attorney fee is only appropriate in rare and exceptional circumstances.
- It provides a uniform standard to assist juries in calculating the accurate value of medical damages in personal injury and wrongful death claims.
For more information on what these changes mean to you, reach out to a skilled Hillsborough County personal injury lawyer today. We look forward to having this discussion with you.