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Personal InjuryFlorida Tort Reform Bill Takes Effect — Here’s What To Expect

Florida tort reform

PORCARO LAW: Florida Tort Reform Bill Takes Effect — Here’s What To Expect

Florida’s legal proceedings are undergoing significant changes in 2023. On Friday, March 24th, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 837 into effect after a prompt pass through the House and Senate. This highly-anticipated Florida tort reform bill is set to change the trajectory of civil liability cases from here on out, having the biggest impact on personal injury attorneys and their clients. 

Here at Porcaro Law Group, we are committed to keeping our community and clients informed of any amendments to Florida legislation. With the recent passing of HB 837, we understand you might have some questions or concerns regarding these changes and how it may affect your personal injury claim. Please do not hesitate to contact us today at tel:+1-561-450-9355. Our team of legal experts are happy to assist you and answer any inquiries you may have regarding Florida’s recent tort reform.

What is the HB 837 law in Florida?

The House Bill 837, also known as the Tort Reform Act, is designed to protect small business owners and corporations from being held excessively liable for a plaintiff’s damages. The new bill intends to reduce “frivolous” lawsuits in Florida by scaling back attorney fees and limiting the proportion of damages claimed. These litigation changes apply directly to causes of actions accrued after the effective date, March 24th, 2023, and will continue to uproot the court process in the near future.

Main components of the new legislation

Prior to the bill passing, Florida upheld a pure comparative negligence system, in which the plaintiff could recover some compensation regardless of his/her percentage of fault. For example, if you suffered $120,000 in damages but were 80% at fault for the incident, you could still recover $24,000. With the new law in effect, that all changes. 

Florida will now operate under a modified comparative negligence system. Thus, a plaintiff can not recover damages if they are more than 50% at fault for the injuries. Aside from limiting the amount of damages a plaintiff can receive, the HB 837 bill also makes filing a civil liability lawsuit against insurers more difficult. As a result, insurance corporations may become more incentivized to short policyholders from fair settlements. 

As evident, there’s a lot to unpack here apropos of the Florida tort reform bill. That’s why we’ll take the next few minutes to outline the total impact of these legislation changes on personal injury, wrongful death and bad faith litigation:

What to Expect From HB 837 — How Will It Impact You?

The following information depicts substantive elements found in House Bill 837. Find out further details pertaining to HB 837 by reading the Florida Statutes here. 

Lodestar Fee is Sufficient and Reasonable

The “lodestar” fee is derived from a simple formula used by judges and arbitrators to calculate the attorney fees for a prevailing party. Under HB 837, it is declared that the “lodestar” fee is fair and adequate. In few circumstances will a litigant be able to argue otherwise unless he or she can demonstrate a reason for not receiving component counsel. 

Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Negligence Claims

The new legislation shortens the statute of limitations for general negligence claims from four years to two years. This will encourage plaintiffs to pursue actions earlier and condense the time span for obtaining evidence. 

One-way attorney fee

Before HB 837 passed, Florida’s “one-way attorneys’ fees” applied to legal cases in which an insured party won in an action against an insurance corporation. The attorney on the case would thereby be awarded a payout for prevailing against the insurer. Now, one-way attorneys’ fees will only apply to declaratory judgment actions taken to state or federal court after an insurer makes a denial of coverage. 

Contingency Fee Multiplier 

Previous legislation allowed courts to award contingency fee multipliers to attorneys’ fees in most civil cases. However, HB 837 reduces the ability to obtain a contingency fee multiplier due to the presumption that the lodestar fee is sufficient and reasonable.  

Admissibility of Past and Future Medical Expenses

HB 837 redefines what constitutes admissible evidence in past, present, and future medical bills. With the exception of medical services paid through Medicare or Medicaid, plaintiffs were previously able to charge for the full estimate of medical expenses, despite not disclosing evidence of any reductions. These days, a litigant must prove the damages awarded is congruent with the amount actually paid. In addition, all letters of protection and bills for medical expenses must be itemized and disclosed to the court. 

Bad Faith Actions

In accordance with the recent amendments, bad faith actions in Florida will face tougher scrutiny. The insured person and/or their representative has a duty to act in good faith, which includes meeting deadlines, providing key information, and attempting to settle the claim. The judge ultimately determines whether the insured party acted in good faith and if compensation is appropriate. Other factors regarding bad faith litigation in HB 837:

  • Statute of limitations for bad faith actions are extended 90 days if the insurer does not tender.
  • Insurer is not liable for failure to pay policy limits for multiple claims surfacing from one incident. 

New Presumption Against Liability 

The Tort Reform Act also brings a new section to Florida law which creates a presumption against liability of property owners, specifically those who have taken action to secure premises with safety measures. If a criminal act is committed by a third party on the premises, all persons related to the incident will be questioned for fault. If a multi-family residential property is subject to a criminal act but substantial security measures were taken, such as employee training, cameras and lock devices installed, there is a presumption against liability for the owner or property manager. 


Although these are the main constituents covered under House Bill 837, there’s still a great deal of information to digest. While this bill received mixed reviews from Floridians and legislators upon passing, it may take some time before we see the direct results of these litigation changes. Last month thousands of plaintiffs filed lawsuits in anticipation of Governor DeSantis’ approval of the Florida tort reform bill. The influx of legal claims will likely cause delays in the next few months.

Discuss your legal options with Porcaro Law Group  

The coming months pose a challenging time for Florida courts as well as personal injury claimants. While these changes will not impact existing lawsuits submitted prior to March 24th, 2023, it’s important for Floridians and business owners to read about the reform amendments and understand how this bill could impact their day-to-day lives. In the meantime, visit our website to learn more about the personal injury lawsuits or get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. 

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