New Florida Law Makes Significant Changes to the Insurance Claims Process

In late March, Florida lawmakers passed and signed HB 837 into law. This new law carries significant weight in insurance claims and other areas of law that will leave a lasting impact on Floridians.

The law creates new limitations for what you can recover in litigation over a personal injury and/or negligence claim. These limitations give more power to insurance companies, making it even more imperative to hire an experienced attorney to fight for everything you are owed under Florida law.

Reasoning Behind the Law

Before we get into the details of the law, it’s important to understand what lawmakers claim the goal was in the first place. Republican lawmakers who supported the bill claim this will lower insurance rates across the state (which has been a significant burden for Floridians) by preventing “frivolous” lawsuits.

Lobbyists with State Farm claim that the high rates in Florida are a “tax by the rich plaintiffs” against the “poor working families of Florida.” As experienced litigators in the state of Florida, we can confidently say that insurance litigation almost always comes from a genuine place and need, more often than not by individuals who otherwise cannot afford the high cost of medical care for the injuries they suffered.

Comparative Negligence Modifications

One of the biggest changes under the law is how cases of negligence will be handled. In the past, you could recover a percentage of your damages based on how much of those costs were considered to be the fault of the other party. If they were determined to be 90% at fault, you would be eligible for 90% of the damages – if they were determined to be 20% at fault, you would be eligible for 20% of the damages.

Now, if you are found to be over 50% responsible for your own injuries then you would be ineligible to recover any of the damages. If you are deemed to be less than 50% responsible then you would recover at the rate the other party is responsible for.

No More “One-Way” Attorney Fees

This bill doubles down on Florida lawmakers’ elimination of “one-way” attorney fees. Insurance companies and businesses who are sued and receive a ruling against them will no longer have to pay the attorney fees of the plaintiffs who sued them in most cases.

Unfortunately, this means the attorney fees you never would have had to pay if the business acted properly in the first place will still be your own responsibility (in most cases, the damages you are awarded will outweigh the costs of an attorney).

Bad Faith Protections

On top of that, insurance companies will now be given a free opportunity to correct bad faith actions without ever being held legally accountable for them. HB 837 requires insurance companies to be notified of a claim of a bad-faith action. After that, the company has 90 days to correct the bad faith action. If the correction is made, a lawsuit cannot be filed. If the correction is not made, a lawsuit can proceed.

This lets them off the hook for acting in their own best interest instead of the interest of paying customers. Even if the action is corrected, you likely suffered damages in the meantime and should be eligible to recover from those damages.

At the Law Office of Ray Garcia, we will continue to fight for the rights of Floridians regardless of the legal limitations put upon hard-working residents. If you suffer an injury at the fault of someone else, contact our offices and let us fight for what you are owed.

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Law Office of Ray Garcia, P.A.

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