How Will Florida’s Tort Reform Bill Impact Your Personal Injury Case?

Florida has enacted sweeping changes to its negligence liability system, which is why it’s more important than ever to hire a lawyer if you’ve been injured in an accident.  The new negligence standard will encourage insurance companies to lowball offers or force into litigation cases where liability isn’t clear, such as auto accidents or slip/trip and fall accidents without witnesses. 

House Bill 837 is a tort reform measure that will shift the landscape of civil litigation in Florida.  Insurers will try to delay, deny or present low settlement offers on valid claims in order to quickly resolve a dispute.  

As a personal injury law firm serving Florida residents, we will fight these roadblocks.  Our goal is to curb the new law’s impact, which aims to reduce protections for individuals while strengthening protections for corporations.  

We are passionate about ensuring your access to Florida’s civil justice system and safeguarding your rights to full compensation for any injuries and losses incurred in an accident. 

Two main areas to be aware of regarding the tort reform bill (HB 837) signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis:  

  1. Florida is replacing its pure comparative negligence system with a modified comparative negligence system.
  2. Florida is shortening the statute of limitations in negligence actions from four to two years.

Until March 24, 2023, Florida had primarily a pure comparative negligence liability system.  Plaintiffs could recover in proportion to the defendants’ percentage of responsibility for injuries regardless of the plaintiff’s liability.  For example, if a defendant was 30% responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff could recover 30% of the damages associated with the injury against that defendant, even if the plaintiff was 70% liable.

Under the new modified comparative negligence system, a plaintiff can recover in proportion to the defendants’ percentage of responsibility only if the plaintiff’s own share of responsibility is 50% or less.  If a plaintiff has more than 50% liability for the injuries claimed, the plaintiff cannot recover any damages from the defendant.  Under HB 837, defendants would have to be at least 51% at fault before they or their insurance company could be forced to pay damages. 

Additionally, the plaintiff’s time to file a lawsuit has been shortened.  Pursuant to the new law, the plaintiff must file a negligence action in two years instead of four years.  As such, claimants will only have two years from the time of the incident to file a suit.  Reducing a statute of limitations for filing negligence lawsuits means plaintiffs should contact an attorney immediately after an accident.  Why? 

HB 837 will force an injured party to file a lawsuit before they finish healing from their injuries.  For those whose losses are extensive and require more than just two years in order to completely understand the full scope of harm, this means plaintiffs and their counsel will prepare their cause of action and evaluate the validity of their claims at an earlier juncture.

Our goal is to ensure HB 837 does not block Florida residents from accessing justice and compensation if they are involved in an accident that causes injury.  Every case requires a personalized strategy for success, so we strive to create a tailored plan that fits your individual situation. 

“We want to ensure there’s no significant reduction in protections for accident victims, and we will make every effort to provide clients with the best possible advice and representation in this new era of tort reform,” Matthew Kobren, Esq. explains. 

Our personal injury lawyers are available to answer any questions about how HB 837 could impact you if you are injured in an accident.  Our dedicated team of trial attorneys and paralegals are committed to providing each client with undivided attention in order to secure an optimal result.  Call us at 561-361-8677 for a free consultation.