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2023 Florida Tort Reform

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2023 | General

Florida’s HB 837, which recently took effect, has brought about changes to the state’s insurance law. The new law impacts adjusters, insurers, and policyholders.

Changes to Admissibility of Medical Evidence

One of the changes brought about by HB 837 relates to what constitutes admissible evidence in establishing past, present, and future medical expenses. According to the new law, evidence about past medical treatments can only be proven through the “amount actually paid, regardless of the source of payment.” Evidence related to unpaid charges for incurred medical treatments will be limited to various categories.
Evidence for future medical treatments and services can only be based on specific criteria, such as the amount that health care coverage would have paid, Medicare reimbursement rates, or state Medicaid rates.

Changes to Attorney Fee Awards

HB 837 also made changes to how attorneys’ fees are calculated and awarded by the court. The law now favors the lodestar method for determining contingency fee multipliers. This can only be overcome in rare and exceptional circumstances where evidence has been presented that competent counsel could not have been retained. Additionally, the law repeals many of the statutes that provide for one-way attorney’s fees in actions involving insurers.

Presumption Against Liability of Property Owners

HB 837 creates a new section of the Florida Statutes that creates a presumption against liability for owners and operators of multifamily residential property in cases based on criminal acts upon the premises by third parties. The presumption applies to such owners who implement certain security features, including lighting in common areas, a one-inch deadbolt in each dwelling unit door, window locks, and gates around pool areas. The legislation also creates a new statutory section replacing joint and several liabilities with comparative negligence in certain negligent security matters against property owners.

Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations for negligence actions in Florida has changed with the passing of House Bill 837. This new legislation has cut the current statute in half, giving claimants only two years from the time the cause of action accrues to file a lawsuit. This change will only impact causes of action that accrue after March 24, 2023. Keep this in mind to ensure that you are aware of the new timeline for filing a lawsuit in negligence cases.

Overall, HB 837 has brought significant changes to Florida’s insurance law, impacting various aspects of the industry.