New Florida Law Reduces Victims’ Rights to Seek Damages

Here at Alvarez Law, we persistently advocate for our clients and their right to financial recovery in cases of negligence. A few weeks ago, however, a new Florida law (House Bill 837) was signed by the governor, diminishing the ability of some individuals to claim damages that result from negligent acts.

Understanding these changes will be imperative in setting expectations and recognizing what this means for your case. You are still owed for the personal injury you suffered but this tort reform will make some elements of doing so more complicated, expensive, or even impossible.

Calculating Damages in Florida Personal Injury Cases

This new law significantly impacts the manner by which a personal injury victim can be charged for medical care and how those damages can be communicated to a jury. In the past, Florida personal injury victims had the right to inform the jury of the full extent of past and future medical costs associated with their injuries. Now, this disclosure is changing – giving more control to insurance providers.

If a personal injury victim has healthcare coverage other than Medicare or Medicaid, they can still disclose the full cost of past and future healthcare costs for treatment related to their injuries. However, if the victim either does not have insurance or has insurance through Medicare or Medicaid then the cost of past and future treatment will be disclosed at 120% of the Medicare coverage rate or, if no Medicare coverage rate is available, 170% of the Medicaid coverage rate at the time of care. This number will reflect costs significantly lower than what the victim is actually paying for care.

What this means for you if you are uninsured (or have Medicare/Medicaid) is that Medicaid and Medicare control the amount you can recover through litigation – but your healthcare provider is not obligated to charge those amounts and will likely charge much more.

Comparative Negligence Changes

Previously, Florida personal injury victims could recover damages from their injury through a “comparative negligence action.” This meant if the other party was considered to be 80% responsible for your injuries then you would be owed 80% of the damages you suffered. Even if you were 65% responsible and the other party was 35% responsible, you would still be eligible for 35% of the damages you suffered.

Under this new law, if a party is determined to be over 50% responsible for their own injuries then they are ineligible to recover any damages. If you are determined to be less than 50% responsible then you continue to be eligible for a comparative recovery based on the percentage the other party is determined to have been responsible.

Weakening of Florida Bad Faith Laws

Bad faith laws protect the people from insurance companies who act in their own self-interest. Now, insurance companies in Florida will be given a get-out-of-jail-free card if they remedy the bad-faith action within 90 days of receiving a notice.

You (or your representation) must contact the insurance company to inform them of a bad faith claim. Once this is done, the company has 90 days to remedy the issue and correct the action deemed to have been committed under bad faith. If this happens, no bad-faith lawsuit can be pursued – even though you may have suffered damages in the meantime.

Reduced Statute of Limitations for Litigation

The previous statute of limitations for a negligence claim in Florida was four years. Now, that limitation is down to just two years with HB 837. This shortens the window of time that victims have to focus on their recovery and get a full understanding of the costs incurred through their suffering.

Our team understands the push to end “frivolous” lawsuits, but, in our experience, these are few and far between. This new law overshadows the many true Florida personal injury victims who are owed recovery in their cases. If you have suffered an injury in Florida and need legal representation to get what you are owed, contact Alvarez Law Group and get the representation you deserve.

The following two tabs change content below.

Alvarez Law Group

At Alvarez Law Group, we are proud of our reputation for being a trusted advocate during insurance claims litigation and real estate transactions.

Latest posts by Alvarez Law Group (see all)