Florida Legislature Looking At Sweeping Tort Reform In Spring Session
New legislation contained in House Bill 837 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 236, which was introduced at the start of the 2023 Spring Session of the Florida state legislature, offers some sweeping reforms squarely aimed at limiting litigation costs. Key provisions of the bill include:
- Comparative fault standard changes to a defendant would have to be found 51% at fault before being forced to pay damages. Under the current standard, juries determine each party’s percentage of fault in negligence lawsuits and award damages based on the percentage of fault assessed to each party.
- Reduces statute of limitations for filing negligence lawsuits from 4 years to 2 years.
- Elimination of fee multipliers.
- Eliminating attorney-client privilege of medical referrals between attorneys and physicians. Under the current law, no questions are permitted that would reveal any financial relationship between attorneys and the physicians to whom they refer clients for treatment.
- Damages awarded in lawsuits cannot exceed policy limits.
- Additional requirements for filing “bad faith” lawsuits.
Both bills seek to address what has been called, “Florida’s insane litigation climate.” The bills are currently working their way through committee and are expected to be brought to the House and Senate floors for a vote in the near future. If the bills are passed, Governor Ron DeSantis is widely expected to sign the final version into law.
– Janna Nuzum is a Founding Partner of The Cook Group. Licensed in New York, Florida, West Virginia, North Carolina & Pennsylvania
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