In 2023, Florida made significant changes to longstanding personal injury laws. The Florida Tort Reform Act 2023, or HB-837, was signed into law last March by Governor Desantis and has been surrounded by controversy. Even though no one was asking for law changes, the Florida legislature delivered a gift to the wealthy and powerful insurance companies. To be clear- this law does not help the people of Florida at all. It only helps the insurance companies.
If your car insurance keeps going up, it is because none of our Florida elected officials required lower premiums when they created this law. They took away your rights and let the insurance companies run wild on the people of Florida. Now, we are all going to pay the price.
What Does Tort Mean?
A tort is when someone does something wrong to another person, causing them harm or damage. It often refers to situations where someone’s actions result in injuries, like in a car accident. It means that if you’re harmed by someone else’s bad behavior, you have the right to seek compensation for your pain and suffering. In legal terms, a tort is a civil (non-criminal) offense that allows the injured person to take legal action against the responsible party. So think of it as a way for justice and fairness in cases where someone gets hurt due to another person’s wrongdoing.
Understanding the Florida Tort Reform Act
HB-837, the formal name for the Florida Tort Reform Act, was written with the rights of businesses in mind, not victims of accidents. It’s a bill that aims to reform lawsuits to safeguard businesses, property owners, and corporations from paying out excessive damages. The idea was to put an end to frivolous lawsuits, but the new restrictions have a significant impact on a victim’s ability to sue an insurer or file a personal injury claim.
Can I Still File A Personal Injury Claim?
It’s crucial to know that even though this legislation could affect the amount of damages awarded, it doesn’t completely remove the chance of seeking a personal injury claim. You can still sue an insurer or file a personal injury claim. However, tort reform does change a lot about your potential lawsuit. Seeking advice from a St. Petersburg car accident attorney who can review your case details will help you determine how this reform bill might impact you.
What Changes in The Florida Tort Reform Act Affect Car Accident Cases?
The changes brought on by the Florida Tort Reform Act have a significant effect on car accident cases. Here’s a breakdown of the changes to your case after a collision:
How Long You’ll Have to File
One significant change is to the statute of limitations for personal injury cases. You now only have two years in which to file a suit. This means that individuals now have less time to take legal action and seek compensation if they have been injured due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. Accident victims must be aware of this change so they can act quickly. The sooner you can consult with a knowledgeable St. Petersburg car accident attorney, the better.
No Compensation If You’re More Than 50% At Fault
HB 837 changes how fault is determined in Florida. Previously, the system was one of pure comparative negligence and now it is modified comparative negligence. But what does this mean?
Before March 24, 2023, even if a plaintiff was mostly responsible for their own injuries (let’s say 90% at fault), they could still be entitled to recover damages from the defendant(s) based on the other party’s percentage of responsibility. For example, they could get 10% of their damages compensated. However, things have changed with the introduction of modified comparative negligence. Now, if a plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault for their injuries, they are prevented from receiving any compensation from the defendants. It puts a bigger emphasis on each person’s level of responsibility when determining who should be held accountable for damages in personal injury cases.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Insurers have a responsibility to act in good faith and settle claims within the limits of their policies whenever possible. However, HB-837 changes the game by introducing comparative bad faith adjustments that might reduce insurers’ accountability when it comes to fair settlements. Now, it’s even easier for insurers to shift the focus onto the behavior of the victim instead of fulfilling their own duties. Any mistakes or oversights made by victims during early legal proceedings or settlement negotiations may negatively impact their ability to recover compensation. This makes it even more important to have a trustworthy St. Petersburg car accident attorney who understands how to navigate these complexities.
In the past, if a victim or their attorney presented a settlement offer with a 30-day deadline for the insurer’s response, failure to respond in time could result in holding them responsible for paying out damages beyond policy limits. Under HB-837, however, insurers now have at least 90 days to respond after receiving proper notice of an injury claim accompanied by “sufficient evidence” supporting the requested amount. The definition of “sufficient evidence” is still uncertain but this provision seems likely to favor insurers moving forward.
How Your Medical Bills Will Be Considered
Tort reform brings changes to the type of evidence that can be considered valid while determining past, present, and future medical expenses. Under this new law, only the amount actually paid – not billed – for previous medical treatments is admissible as evidence during a trial, regardless of who made the payment. Other aspects related to medical expenses may have limited relevance or enforceability in court.
These changes have the potential to impact your access to necessary medical treatment in situations where immediate payment is not possible. The reform’s effects can be particularly significant in cases involving high medical expenses, like those related to traumatic brain injuries. It’s important to understand how these changes may influence the outcomes of such cases and plan accordingly for any potential challenges that may arise.
Why It’s Even More Important to Hire A St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney
With the changes from tort reform, hiring a St. Petersburg car accident attorney is even more important when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident. While it may seem like a straightforward process, navigating legal matters and insurance claims can be complex and overwhelming without professional guidance. Here are four crucial points specific to the new legislation changes highlighting why hiring a skilled attorney is essential in such situations:
Getting Things Done Within The Statute Of Limitations
One primary reason to hire a St. Petersburg car accident attorney is to ensure compliance with the statute of limitations. Each state sets a specific time limit within which victims must file their personal injury lawsuits after an accident occurs. In Florida, for example, the statute of limitations for most car accidents is four years from the date of the incident. Failing to adhere to these deadlines can result in losing your right to seek compensation completely. A competent attorney specializing in car accidents will understand these time constraints and work diligently to meet them promptly, safeguarding your legal rights throughout the process.
Determining Comparative Negligence
Another critical aspect handled by a St. Petersburg car accident attorney relates to determining comparative negligence if multiple parties were involved or partially responsible for the accident. Florida follows a pure comparative negligence system, meaning that even if you were partially at fault for the accident, you are still eligible to recover damages proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault.
An experienced attorney can investigate the accident thoroughly, gathering evidence and witness statements to determine liability accurately. They will work tirelessly to minimize any attempt by insurance companies or opposing parties to shift blame onto you unjustly. By maximizing your compensation despite comparative negligence, an attorney ensures that you are not unfairly burdened with excessive financial responsibilities.
Handling Communication With Insurance Companies
Interacting with insurance companies after a car accident can be frustrating and overwhelming for victims. Insurance adjusters often prioritize their company’s profits over the well-being of the injured party, potentially undervaluing or denying legitimate claims.
By hiring a St. Petersburg car accident attorney, you gain a knowledgeable advocate who understands how insurance companies operate. They have experience negotiating fair settlements and effectively countering tactics employed by insurers concerning fault assessments, coverage limitations, medical expenses, and other aspects impacting your claim’s value.
Dealing With The Changes To Medical Documentation
Proper documentation of injuries sustained in a car accident is crucial for pursuing compensation effectively. A skilled attorney will help ensure that all necessary medical examinations, tests, diagnoses, treatments, and costs are thoroughly documented by qualified healthcare professionals.
Additionally, attorneys often work alongside trusted medical experts who can provide valuable opinions regarding the long-term effects of your injuries and the potential future treatments required. This comprehensive approach strengthens your case significantly when pursuing adequate compensation for present and future medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.
Speak With A St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney Today For A Free Consultation
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in St. Petersburg, don’t let tort reform stop you from seeking the compensation you deserve. The statute of limitations is ticking faster than ever, and insurance companies are already working against your best interests with the new legislation to help them. Take action now by speaking with a skilled St. Petersburg car accident attorney who will fight for you.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation where we can assess your case, explain complex legal matters, and develop a personalized strategy tailored to your unique circumstances. Don’t face this difficult situation alone – our experienced attorneys are here to guide you every step of the way.
Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to securing fair compensation for your injuries, damages, and pain and suffering. Contact us now to take control of your future and ensure that justice is served. Your initial consultation is completely free – there’s nothing to lose but everything to gain by reaching out today.