Florida’s Major Tort Reform: Reduced Statute of Limitations & Changed Comparative Fault Rule
In March 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law sweeping changes to the state’s tort and bad faith laws. The changes under HB 837 took effect on March 24, 2023. Among the changes, the Governor enacted a modified comparative negligence system in place of its pure comparative negligence system. In addition, the statute of limitations for negligence-based claims was reduced by half.
Our Boca Raton personal injury lawyers at Leifer & Ramirez keep track of changes in the legal system. We are here to inform you of any changes to the state’s laws that might affect your current or future personal injury case.
Reduced Statute of Limitations & Changed Comparative Fault Rule
The new law, according to the official website of the Florida Senate, reduced the statute of limitations for negligence-based claims from four to two years. This change alone affects the vast majority of all personal injury claims filed in the state.
The Governor also reformed Florida’s comparative negligence system. Before the changes, Florida was among the few states that adhered to the pure comparative negligence system, which allowed plaintiffs whose fault was greater than the defendant’s to recover damages. In other words, a plaintiff was allowed to obtain compensation for their damages even if they were 99% at fault.
However, the new law replaced the pure comparative fault system with the modified comparative fault system, which means plaintiffs whose fault is greater than 50% are no longer able to recover damages.
Note: The pure comparative negligence rule still applies to medical malpractice actions.
New Guidelines for Admission of Evidence
The major tort reform also added new guidelines for the admission of evidence regarding past/future medical expenses in negligent actions. Under the statute, when demonstrating evidence of past medical services that have been satisfied, the plaintiff can only show evidence of the amount actually paid, regardless of the payment source used.
Negligent Security Actions
Under the new law, intentional tortfeasors can now be allocated fault in premises liability cases related to negligent security. It means that criminals who acted intentionally can now be assigned a percentage of fault in negligent security cases. The new law also added a presumption against liability in residential housing cases for property owners or managers.
Bad Faith Actions
HB 837 also made changes to the award of attorney fees in bad faith actions. In these actions, the prevailing party is able to recover attorney fees only when there is a declaratory judgment action and the insurance company disclaims coverage. Therefore, an award of attorney fees will not be automatic as it used to be.
Get in Touch with Leifer & Ramirez
If you want to stay up to date with new laws or reforms in Florida law, contact Leifer & Ramirez. Our lawyers can walk you through the current laws that may affect your ability to obtain compensation, whether you are filing a claim based on negligence, negligent security, or a bad-faith action. Receive a free case evaluation by calling 561-660-9421.