Sweeping Tort Reform in Florida

Sweeping Tort Reform in Florida

Sweeping Tort Reform in Florida: Implications for the Insurance Industry and Real Estate

Published on May 18, 2023

The landscape of civil litigation in Florida has been significantly reshaped by the recent signing of House Bill 837, known as the "Civil Remedies," by Governor Ron DeSantis on March 24, 2023. This law brings sweeping tort reform that applies to causes of action accruing after the effective date. In anticipation of this momentous change, plaintiffs' firms filed about 100,000 lawsuits, representing approximately 77% of total cases filed since the start of the year.

This reform carries critical implications for the insurance industry and the real estate sector, particularly in the Northwest Florida region, including Destin and the 30A area. Let's explore some of the key changes introduced by HB 837 and their potential impact.

Modified Comparative Negligence Standard
HB 837 changes Florida's negligence standard from "pure" to "modified" comparative negligence, aligning with the majority of other states. In practical terms, if a plaintiff is more negligent than the defendant, the plaintiff cannot recover. This could reduce the number of cases in which the plaintiff was predominantly responsible for their own harm.

Two-Year Statute of Limitations for General Negligence Claims
The law reduces the statute of limitations for general negligence from four years to two. This may encourage plaintiffs to file suit earlier, increasing the ability to obtain evidence closer to the alleged incident time. It could also be used to effectuate earlier settlement and resolution of claims, especially pre-suit.

Changes to Admissibility of Evidence in Past and Future Medical Expenses
HB 837 changes the evidence that plaintiffs can introduce to establish past and future medical expenses. Now, 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.

Letters of Protection and Referrals Must be Disclosed
The reform requires the disclosure of letters of protection and all bills for medical expenses, which must be itemized and coded. If the plaintiff is referred for treatment under a letter of protection by their attorney, disclosure of the referral is allowed, overturning a previous Florida Supreme Court decision.

Bad Faith – New Duty of Insureds and Impact on Damages
In every bad faith action in Florida, the insured, claimant, and/or their representative have a duty to act in good faith in providing information, making demands, setting deadlines, and attempting to settle the claim. The jury can consider whether the insured, claimant and/or their representative acted in good faith and may reasonably reduce the amount of damages awarded.

Changes to Negligent Security
The new law introduces a presumption against negligent security liability for the owner or operator of a “multifamily residential property” if they demonstrate “substantial compliance” with crime assessments, crime and safety training for employees, and safety and security measures.

As we move forward, it will be crucial for those in the insurance and real estate sectors to stay informed and adjust their practices in accordance with these changes. While some aspects of the reform may lead to potential cost savings for insurance companies, it's also possible that certain changes could increase the demand for legal and claims handling resources.

This blog post was created with the assistance of an advanced AI language model. I'm leveraging AI technology to analyze complex legal developments and distill them into an accessible format for my clients. By harnessing the power of AI, I can offer real-time insights, personalized property recommendations, and more efficient transaction processes. Utilizing AI allows me to focus on what matters most: helping you find your dream home or sell your property in the beautiful Destin and 30A area.

In a rapidly changing legal landscape, staying informed about these changes is crucial. I will continue to leverage AI technology to provide you with the most relevant and up-to-date information, giving you the competitive edge in the NW Florida real estate market. 

As your trusted real estate advisor in the Destin and 30A area, I am committed to staying ahead of the curve and using every tool at my disposal to ensure your success. Whether you're looking to buy, sell, or understand more about the real estate market, I'm here to help. Reach out to me anytime for all your real estate needs.

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