Sweeping changes in the Sunshine State
Florida recently enacted tort reform legislation with the intended purpose of decreasing frivolous litigation and discouraging abuse of the legal process. The new law changes existing law, in relevant parts by:
- modifying the negligence standard from a “pure” comparative fault to a “modified” comparative fault so that plaintiffs will be barred from recovering damages if their negligence is greater than 50 percent;
- reducing the statute of limitations for general negligence actions from four to two years;
- allowing juries to determine the accurate value of medical expenses by allowing them to see the amount the insurer was obligated to pay for the medical treatment or services, as well as medical costs paid by the plaintiff; and
- protecting insurers from being liable beyond the policy limits where two or more third-party claimants make competing claims from a single incident, which, taken together, would exceed the policy limits.
The changes in Florida law disincentives attorneys from needlessly inflating and surprising unsuspecting Defendants with lawsuits after memories have faded and evidence is potentially spoiled. It is important to note that the new law only affects cases accrued on or after March 24, 2023. It is believed that in the run-up to March 24, the Plaintiffs filed more than 24,000 new lawsuits. Therefore, we encourage Members to exercise caution and report all new suits immediately to the Club for assessment and evaluation.
The Club continuously monitors for changes that affect our Members’ legal liabilities in the jurisdictions in which they operate. For more information about statutes of limitations and negligence standards in Florida and other U.S. jurisdictions, please contact the author of the New Jersey or San Francisco claims teams at firstname.lastname@example.org and SanFrancisco.email@example.com respectively.