New Tort Reform Legislation is a Win for Insurance Defense Attorneys

A new tort law filed in Florida has created a huge shift in the insurance industry. Various impacts by this law includes shortening statute of limitations time periods in which a lawsuit can be filed and altering fault standards. While this law is still relatively new, its effects have already been realized by a influx of cases filed throughout the state. The law, and these new changes, went into effect on the date that it was filed: March 24, 2023. These important changes are explained below.

Statute of limitations is the amount of time in which you can file a lawsuit. The new legislation reduces the statute of limitations for negligence actions, from four years to two years. This decrease is meant to reduce lawsuits and encourage more settlements, rather than taking the case to trial, which can be extremely costly and take years to resolve. This is a positive change for the defense side because it will hopefully in practice lessen the amount of suits being filed by Plaintiff.

Fault standards in Florida prior to the new legislation allowed a jury to determine that if a plaintiff was 99% at fault, and the defendant only 1% at fault, and the plaintiff would still be able to recover. Now, the fault standard is modified comparative negligence, where a plaintiff cannot recover if they are more than 50% at fault, even if a defendant is still 49% at fault. In practice, the theory is that this will also lessen the large volume of lawsuits previously filed.

Because these changes may create more of a hardship on Plaintiff’s side, tens of thousands of lawsuits were filed over just a few by Plaintiffs hastily attempting to protect against the harsher standards set forth in the new legislation. Kampf, Inman & Associates has been closely monitoring the impact this law has had and will have on insurance litigation. We are looking forward to helping our clients through these changes in the future.

By: Sydnie Coraggio, J.D.