Florida’s tort laws have undergone a major change. House Bill 837 passed the Florida House and Senate in 2023 and has since gone into effect. This law has changed several facets of how personal injury claims are approached in Florida. Here, we want to briefly review the changes that this bill made as well as how this could affect you as a citizen or visitor of Florida.
Still a No-Fault State
There’s been discussion about shifting Florida from a no-fault car insurance state to a regular tort-based system, similar to how most other states handle vehicle accidents. However, this tort reform bill did not change the no-fault system.
Comparative Negligence Changes
Florida was previously considered a “pure comparative negligence” system. Under this system, individuals could recover compensation for an injury even if they were up to 99% responsible for the incident. However, Florida is now considered a “modified comparative negligence” system.
Under this modified comparative system, any individual more than 50% responsible for causing their own injuries will not be able to recover compensation for their losses. Individuals who are less than 50% responsible for causing their injuries will be able to recover compensation but at a reduced rate depending on their percentage of fault.
The Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Before HB 837 was signed, the general statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida was four years from the date and injury occurred. This has been shifted to two years from the date an injury occurs. In other words, individuals who sustain injuries caused by the negligent actions of other parties have two years with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. Failure to file the lawsuit within this time frame will likely be in the case gets dismissed.
However, please understand that there are always several exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations, so speak to your lawyer if you have any questions about whether or not you have a claim and time to file that claim.
New Standards of Calculating Medical Damages
Under this new law, in order to prove the total amount of damages for past or future medical treatment for a personal injury or wrongful death claim, evidence will now be limited to evidence related to the amount actually paid, which will vary depending on the source of the payment (private health insurers, Medicare, Medicaid, non-insurance payments, etc.). Medical bill calculations will be evaluated based on their reasonableness and if the past or future treatment was/is medically necessary.
Disclosure of Medical Referrals
This bill removed the attorney-client privilege related to medical referrals. This change means that if a referral is made by a claimant’s attorney, then the disclosure of this referral is permitted, along with evidence related to the referral. Any financial relationship between the law firm and the medical provider will be admissible.
House Bill 837 made various other changes that could affect individuals who sustained injuries in the state of Florida. If you have any questions about your specific injury claim, please reach out to a skilled personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg who can walk you through this entire process.