Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law on March 24, 2023, legislation that replaces Florida's pure comparative negligence system with a modified comparative negligence system. Under this system, a plaintiff can recover in proportion to the defendant's percentage of responsibility only if the plaintiff's own share of responsibility is 50 percent or less. If a plaintiff bears more than 50 percent liability, the plaintiff cannot recover from the defendant. In premises liability cases, juries can consider the fault of all people who contributed to an injury, including a nonparty who injured the plaintiff by committing a crime on the defendant's property.
The proposed legislation, known as HB 837, could bring about significant changes to civil litigation in Florida, including cutting the statute of limitations in half from four years to two years. Insurance carriers would also be immune from claims of bad faith if they tender the limits within 90 days of notice of a claim.
One of the most significant impacts of the legislation would be on the recovery of medical bills in litigation. Doctors who charge inflated prices in litigation through letters of protection may see an end to this practice. The bill seeks to limit the evidence presented to juries regarding the amount paid, not the gross amount before write-offs. The bill also limits the recovery of medical bills to the amount that the plaintiff's medical insurer is obligated to pay, plus any co-pay.
The bill would also allow a jury to hear evidence about the relationship between a plaintiff's attorney and any doctor to whom they refer their client under a letter of protection. This change would provide a more accurate picture to juries and level the playing field for defense attorneys.
The proposed legislation has caused alarm among plaintiffs' attorneys, resulting in a surge in filings. It remains to be seen how court administrators will handle the influx of cases.
The Pittman Law Firm has been closely monitoring these changes and is ready to provide the best representation possible in spite of these changes. If you need the help of a skilled and well-informed Fort Myers personal injury lawyer, contact our law firm for your legal needs.
*This is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney such as Pittman Law Firm to discuss your case and how this may impact you.