Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed House Bill 837, “Civil Remedies,” into law on March 24, 2023. The bill contains significant tort law changes that impact civil litigation in Florida. Simply put, the new law impacts injured men and women looking to file a general negligence claim by decreasing the amount of time they have to file suit, changing the way an injured party who is not at fault receives compensation, changing how past and future medical expenses are determined for injured parties, and introducing a new duty of good faith for insureds and claimants.
How the New Law Impacts The Villages and Surrounding Areas
Statute of Limitations Reduced to Two Years
One of the most significant changes is the reduction of the statute of limitations for general negligence claims from four years to two years. The legal community hopes the change will encourage injured parties to file lawsuits earlier, allowing them and their counsel to begin evaluating their case as soon as possible. However, limiting the statute of limitations ultimately provides injured victims less time to seek legal counsel.
Injured Persons Found 51%+ at Fault Cannot Recover Damages
One of the significant changes in HB 837 is the modification of Florida’s comparative negligence standard from a "pure'' comparative negligence standard to a "modified'' comparative negligence standard. Previously, an injured person could recover damages proportionate to the degree of fault of the defendant. However, under the new standard, if the injured person is more negligent than the defendant, the injured person cannot recover.
Past and Future Medical Expenses Limited to Health Care Coverage Limits
HB 837 also introduces changes in the admissibility of evidence of past and future medical expenses. In Florida, injured men and women were permitted to introduce the full amount of medical bills charged for services rendered, except for services paid by Medicare or Medicaid. Now, the evidence offered to prove the amount of damages for past medical bills that have been satisfied is limited to the evidence of the amount actually paid, regardless of the source of payment. For future medical bills, the “usual and customary” amount also depends on whether the injured party has health insurance coverage.
New Standard for Bad-Faith Insurance Claims
Finally, HB 837 introduces a new duty of good faith for insureds and claimants in bad faith lawsuits in Florida. The insured, claimant, and/or their representative now have a duty to act in good faith in providing information, making demands, setting deadlines, and attempting to settle the claim. The trier of fact may consider whether the insured, claimant and/or their representative acted in good faith and may reasonably reduce the amount of damages awarded. Mere negligence remains insufficient to bring a claim for bad faith against an insurer.
One-Way Attorneys’ Fees Repealed in Property Insurance Claims
Florida previously held a “one way attorneys’ fee” provision that gave an insured person the benefit of reasonable attorneys’ fees when a lawsuit was won. The new law revised Florida Statute Sections 627.428 and 626.9373 and now insurance companies will no longer be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees, even if they improperly denied your claims.
How Your Personal Injury Lawyer in The Villages Can Help
We do not expect you to understand the specific nuances of the law as it develops. However, as your personal injury lawyer in The Villages, we are up-to-date on these legal developments and how they impact our community. To learn more about your legal rights, or to discuss a potential claim, in The Villages or neighboring regions of Central Florida, reach out to the Babiarz Law Firm, PA. Our initial consultation is complimentary, and we only collect legal fees if we obtain compensation on your behalf. Contact The Villages car accident attorney, Tim Babiarz, today.