House Bill 837 recently took effect all across the state of Florida. The new Florida tort reform law will make it more difficult to obtain the compensation you deserve after getting injured due to someone else’s negligence.
Additionally, if you have just filed or are about to file a personal injury lawsuit, you may face unexpected delays. Many plaintiffs rushed to file their cases before the new law’s passage, creating a significant backlog.
The new tort laws may make filing a personal injury case more difficult. But that does not mean you should give up. The personal injury attorneys at RHINO Lawyers want to help you learn how to navigate this new landscape.
What changes can you expect from the recent Florida tort reform bill? We are talking about each of them in this guide, as well as ways to successfully file your case in light of these changes.
Which Cases Does House Bill 837 Apply To?
House Bill 837 applies to cases that fall under tort law. Tort law refers to any case where a victim gets injured by another party. The following situations fall under tort law in Florida:
- Intentional torts, where the defendant intentionally caused the plaintiff’s injury or fear of injury (e.g., assault, battery, false imprisonment, etc.)
- Negligence torts, where the defendant’s lack of reasonable care caused the plaintiff’s injury (e.g., personal injury)
- Strict liability torts, where the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injury regardless of intent or negligence
Tort law is a type of civil law, meaning that defendants don’t receive felonies or go to jail if found guilty. Instead, courts order defendants to pay the plaintiff compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
An Overview of the Florida Tort Reform Law
HB 837 impacts all three types of torts. The new bill makes changes to the following:
- The statute of limitations, or how long you have to file a lawsuit
- The types of medical evidence plaintiffs can use to make their cases
- The liability of multi-family residence owners
- The comparative negligence rule
- The ability to make bad-faith claims against certain insurers
These changes will take effect immediately. Other changes to tort law are still to be seen as courts set new precedents. Keep an eye on this space for future updates on how courts interpret and apply the new law.
Now, let’s discuss what each of these changes means for your personal injury case.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for tort cases in Florida used to be four years. That means plaintiffs could file a tort lawsuit within four years of the day they received the injury.
If your injury occurred on or after March 24th, 2023, you now only have two years from the date of your injury to file a claim. Failing to file your lawsuit within this time frame means you must forfeit your right to compensation.
HB 837 places a new cap on the amount of compensation a victim can receive for medical expenses. Victims can only recover the amount a health insurance provider would pay for the medical services they received for their injuries.
It is a commonly known fact that insurance companies pay less than what medical providers actually bill for their services. That means compensation may not cover all of a victim’s medical bills.
Another impact of this change regards to evidence of future medical bills. Sometimes, an injury may be so severe that it causes disability. Victims can then claim compensation for future medical expenses they may incur.
Now, individuals without health insurance may not be able to claim future medical expenses. That is bad news considering that 2.6 million people in Florida are uninsured.
This change will still impact your case even if you do have insurance. You will receive compensation at insurance company prices, not what providers actually bill.
Multi-Family Property Owner Liability
“Multi-family residences” refer to properties like apartment complexes. People living in apartment buildings used to have unlimited rights when suing property owners for on-premise crimes like robberies and muggings.
The new bill protects multi-family residence owners from liability in these types of cases. These added protections could potentially reduce the compensation victims receive after being a victim of a crime in their apartment buildings.
Florida used to be a pure comparative negligence state. This means plaintiffs could still obtain compensation for their injuries even if they were 99% at fault for the accident.
The recent tort reform changed the pure comparative negligence rule to modified comparative negligence. With modified comparative negligence, victims can only file for damages with less than 51% at fault for the accident.
The only type of case this new change does not apply to is medical malpractice claims. Medical malpractice claims target medical professionals who cause injuries to their patients due to negligence or omission.
Bad Faith Claims
A bad faith claim occurs when an insurance company deliberately violates its agreements with a policyholder. In personal injury cases, this can happen if your liability insurer refuses to pay out a valid claim.
Previously, Floridians had the right to sue insurance providers acting in bad faith. Recent tort reforms have changed this rule to favor liability insurance companies.
RHINO Lawyers Will Get You the Compensation You Deserve
The Florida tort reform law places hurdles in front of injury victims. You now have less time to file your claim and fewer rights if you were at fault for the accident. The new bill also favors property owners and insurers over victims.
Even worse, these changes could reduce compensation for victims all across the state. That is why working with an experienced tort lawyer in Florida is more crucial than ever.
Are you searching for an attorney who can get you the compensation you deserve in spite of HB 837? Contact RHINO Lawyers for a free case review and learn how we can successfully win your case.
CONTACT A TAMPA AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.
Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.