Important – Proposed Florida Legislation
March 21, 2023
Author: David I. Shiner, Esq.
Your timeframe and inherent rights under the law to act after an accident has been drastically reduced.
As part of House Bill 837, Florida’s negligence-based damage recovery system will be changed from pure comparative negligence to modified comparative negligence. The proposed changes are being argued to curb rampant lawsuit abuse in the state. Many people and industries oppose the bill, pointing out that it significantly reduces individual protections while strengthening large corporations’ protections.
How Damages Recovered From Accidents Are Changing Due to Florida House Bill 837
Unfortunately, the Florida Legislature is poised to pass major legal reforms that will hurt individuals and business owners in Florida – and, in my opinion, Floridians with limited financial means will be hit the hardest. What’s more, these changes, in some cases, will result in the taxpayer (you) having to foot the bill for medical treatments or the business owner who bought insurance but is not exposed to great financial risk because your insurance carrier failed to protect your interests.
Because of these proposed “bad laws,” representatives from Shiner Law Group went to Tallahassee to speak with elected officials expressing the consequences of passing bad legislation that big insurance companies clearly wrote. Interestingly, a simple search will reveal the millions of dollars recently donated to Florida politicians.
There will be several blog updates to come that will outline the proposed new laws, which still must be finalized and signed by the Governor – as of this post, the proposed bills are just that. However, the legislation is expected to be finalized on March 22, 2023, and sent to the Governor to sign. In short, these changes focus on several key areas; these proposed changes simply help insurance companies. These changes impact the following:
- Cut Statute of Limitations in half;
- Allow insurance companies to act in Bad Faith with less consequences; and
- Cap medical damages.
It is the opinion of attorney David I. Shiner that those hurt most – and as an unintended consequence through this proposed law – will be those with little financial means, insureds such as drivers who cause accidents, business owners who are left with little to no protection from their insurance carrier if they fail to take action to protect the owner’s business, etc. As with any action, there is generally a reaction; in some cases it can result in a “be careful for what you ask for.”
Unintended Consequences of House Bill 837
Statute of Limitations: By cutting the Statute of Limitations in half – individuals who seek redress through the Courts. The 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution, in 1791, protects the right for citizens to have a jury trial in federal courts in civil cases. By drastically shortening this time period it impacts people who may not be familiar with the law and, if no action is taken, prevent those individuals from having their “day in court”; a fundamental right in America.
Bad Faith: If you hurt someone by accident, or if own a business this affects YOU. Under HB 837, an insured would have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the insurer acted in bad faith. This higher standard would make it more difficult for policyholders to bring successful bad faith actions against insurers. Thus, if you become subject to a significant award at trial, then YOU may have no recourse to go after your insurance company for failing to protect you. This does not impact the injured person – this impacts, negatively – the business or person who needs the protection. In short, if you cause a crash and your insurance company fails to resolve your case in good faith, and you are sued and the jury awards an “excess” judgment, then you (the insured) will be on the hook for those excess damages. Something the insurance company should have resolved so you are not on the hook personally.
Capping Medical Damages: People with health insurance or Medicare will have less to worry about. However, those people hurt who do not have health insurance will be left without medical care. In short, the legislators intend to limit a doctor’s ability to recovery certain medical bills if the person hurt does not have insurance. This will result in virtually anyone hurt to seek medical attention through the hospitals; and, because they have no insurance guess who pays? YOU the taxpayer. This change in the law will cause the hospitals to pass those unpaid costs onto the taxpayer. Also, generally, those without insurance are generally the people that need help the most given their financial status. Again, laws are being passed that generally affect those with limited financial means.
Again, there are several other impacts on the current laws and, as agreed to by many – doctors, medical facilities, businesses, lawyers, and importantly the injured persons – will have a dilatory effect on the people the Florida government was elected to protect – the citizens/constituents.
When have you ever had your insurance company lower their rates? This is big business lobbying the government for laws that allow these big businesses to make more money – and now at the expense of the injured, insured, and taxpayer.
Updates to follow. Please check back.