Florida House Bill 837 and How It May Impact Your Personal Liability Claim

by Bonner Law | Jun 26, 2024 | Premises Liability
HB 837 Blog Image

What is HB 837?

The Florida Tort Reform Act of 2023, or HB-837, is a legislation created to reform the state’s tort laws. The purpose was to address excessive damage awards in some cases and increasing insurance costs. Although this new legislation may change the amount of damages awarded, it does not mean you are unable to pursue a personal injury claim. Discussing your situation with an attorney may help you understand your options and determine the right course of action for you.

What Changes Came with It?

Statute of Limitations

HB-837 reduced the statute of limitations for bringing a general negligence lawsuit from four years to two years from the date of injury or date of discovery of the injury. This makes it harder for victims to file a lawsuit. Therefore, delaying for too long can result in the statute of limitations passing and bar the case from being filed. It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to discuss your options. Some exceptions may apply on a case-by-case basis.

Comparative Fault Negligence

Before HB-837, under the pure comparative negligence standard, plaintiffs could still recover some damages, even if they were partially at fault for the accident. Depending on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault, this amount was reduced from their damages.

However, under HB-837, a modified comparative negligence standard was implemented. If a plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault, they can no longer recover any damages.

This change does affect most personal injury claims including wrongful death claims and insurer bad faith litigation.

Good News: This does not apply to medical negligence actions, including:

  • Death,
  • Injury,
  • Or monetary loss to any person arising from any medical, dental, or surgical diagnosis, treatment, or care by any provider of health care.

Negligent Security and Premises Liability Law

Previously, negligent security cases involving injuries caused by third-party tortfeasors only included the victim and the property owner. Now, HB-837 shifted blame to any intentional wrongdoers. Property owners may now have less liability. This may result in property owners taking less security measures to prevent accidents. There is now a presumption against liability against owners and operators of “multifamily residential property” for criminal acts if the premises contains the following security measures:

  • Security cameras at points of entry and exit, which records with at least 30 days of retrievable footage,
  • Lighted parking lots from dusk until dawn,
  • Lighted walkways, laundry rooms, common areas, and porches from dusk until dawn,
  • Minimum 1-inch deadbolt in each dwelling unit door,
  • Locking device on each window, exterior sliding door, and any other door not used for community purposes,
  • Locked gates along pool fencing areas,
  • And peephole or door viewer on each dwelling unit door that does not have a window or no window next to the door.

Bad Faith Insurance Litigation

Insurance companies used to be held accountable for full damages if they did not respond to a settlement offer within 30 days. Now, insurance companies have a minimum of 90 days to respond to actual notice of an injury claim and the claim must be accompanied by “sufficient evidence” to support the claim amount.

Under HB-837, mere negligence alone cannot constitute insurance bad faith. This change can result in insurance companies having less accountability to conduct good faith settlements. Insurance companies can now shift the blame for mistakes and omissions that occurred during early litigation towards the victim and their attorney.

This can affect your ability to recover, which is why it is important to be aware of these changes and discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.

New Standards for Medical Evidence, Medical Bills, and Recoverable Damages

Evidence admissibility at trial for past medical treatment is now limited to the “amount actually paid, regardless of the source of payment.”

HB-837 placed new limits on Letters of Protection (LOP). These agreements were meant to ensure doctors paid medical bills conditioned on a personal injury lawsuit recovery. The bill now requires there be certain disclosures made and limits medical damages to only what was actually paid for. These limits include:

  • A copy of the LOP,

  • All billings rendered medical expenses, with coding where applicable,

  • Name of third parties with right to payment for services and the dollar amount paid,

  • Any healthcare coverage the plaintiff had at the time of treatment,

  • And anyone who may have referred the plaintiff for treatment under a LOP.

This change can result in doctors refusing to treat patients who cannot pay for medical services immediately. Your medical care is important and these restrictions may put you at risk of receiving less than adequate care.

Please note, HB-837 is effective now, but mainly applies to causes of actions filed after the effective date, March 24th, 2023. It will not impair rights under insurance contracts that came before the effective date, but does apply to insurance contracts issued, or renewed, after the effective date.

Some of these changes may take time to implement, but being informed early on will give you the best chance of proper care and representation.

If you believe you or a family member has a potential medical malpractice or personal injury claim, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Call Bonner Law at
1-800-4MEDMAL for a free consultation or visit our page for a free consultation.

Michael P. Bonner has over 30 years of experience representing clients in medical malpractice and personal injury litigation. Bonner Law has the knowledge and experience to represent you and navigate the legal and medical landscape to ensure that you receive compensation for damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering that you are entitled to. For more information on medical malpractice claims you can also visit our Medical Malpractice page.

 

Sources:
Understanding The Impact of Florida HB-837
Florida Passes Tort Reform: What You Need to Know
HB-837 Text