You’ve just been involved in an accident in Florida and are doing your due diligence to understand your rights and legal avenues of recovery. You might run across conflicting information online regarding liability laws.
Is Florida a modified comparative negligence state or a pure comparative one? Understandably, you might be confused about which rule applies based on search results. Florida tort reform in 2023 changed the law from pure comparative negligence to modified comparative negligence.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a significant tort reform bill, CS/CS/HB 837 (HB 837), into law on March 24, 2023. The bill introduced sweeping changes, including to Florida’s negligence laws. Read on to learn more about Florida tort reform and what the changes mean for your claim.
What Was Florida’s Old Negligence System?
Before HB 837, Florida was a pure comparative negligence state. In fact, comparative negligence in Florida dates back to 1973. The Florida Supreme Court’s opinion in Hoffman v. Jones, 280 So. 2nd 431, abolished the archaic and restrictive doctrine of contributory negligence.
Under contributory negligence, the law barred you from any recovery if you were one percent or more at fault. Additional states have abolished contributory negligence, recognizing the need for a more equitable and fair system.
Under the earlier pure comparative negligence system, a plaintiff could receive money in proportion to the defendant’s level of fault, regardless of the plaintiff’s own liability or fault.
For example, if you were 40% responsible for your injuries, you could collect 60% of your damages. If you were 60% at fault, you would receive 40% of your damages. Even if you were 99% at fault, you would’ve at least received 1% of your losses. That changes under the new tort reform law.
New Modified Comparative Negligence System
The new law modifies the previous system. Now, a plaintiff can only recover money if their degree of fault is 50% or less. If the plaintiff’s fault is more than 50%, the law bars them from recovering any damages from the defendant. This means you won’t receive any money if you are the party with the majority of fault.
Consider a modified comparative negligence example where you’re 30% at fault. You would receive 70% of your damages. But what happens if you’re 51% at fault? It means you would receive no compensation.
Exception to Modified Comparative Negligence
There is one notable exception to the new tort reform for actions involving medical malpractice claims. Pure comparative negligence still applies if you file a personal injury or wrongful death claim for medical malpractice.
What Filing Date Does the New Law Apply from in Florida?
The new modified comparative negligence law applies to non-medical malpractice claims filed on or after March 24, 2023. Pure comparative negligence applies to negligence lawsuits before this date. Other claims might be more complicated to figure out, which is why you should contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to understand how the new law affects you directly.
Other Changes to Be Aware of with Florida 2023 Tort Reform
HB 837 also introduced other changes that might impact your personal injury claim. Here is a look at some of the more important ones.
Statute of Limitations on General Negligence Claims Shortened
Claims arising out of general negligence now have a shortened statute of limitations. Previously, the statute of limitations was four years. Now plaintiffs only have two years to file a lawsuit.
Florida Tort Reform 2023 and Bad-Faith Insurance Claims
HB 837 also revises the standard for bad-faith insurance claims. The new law establishes that mere negligence cannot constitute insurance bad faith. Additionally, it imposes new duties on insureds and their representatives to act in good faith when interacting with insurance companies.
If the liability insurer tenders its full policy limits or an amount demanded by the plaintiff (along with sufficient supporting evidence why), it will create a safe harbor. Plaintiffs can’t use the existence of this safe harbor to support any bad faith insurance allegation.
For cases involving multiple third-party claimants, the insurance company might have “competing claims” arising out of a single occurrence that will exceed available limits.
An insurer is not committing bad faith by not paying if they, within 90 days after being put on notice of competing claims, files an interpleader action or commences the outlined arbitration procedure found in HB 837.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
The changes ushered in by Florida’s tort reform bill of 2023 have far-reaching implications for individuals and companies alike.
It introduces stricter requirements for plaintiffs and shifts some burdens onto those seeking insurance claims. Are you looking online for answers to questions such as, “Is Florida a modified comparative negligence state?”
If so, contact the experienced legal team at Nonni Homola. We have decades of experience and understand all the negligence law changes you need to be aware of. This law is only a few months old, so it’s crucial to hire a lawyer who understands the impact of it on personal injury law in Florida.
Please contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review your case and tell you how best to proceed.