Controversial Tort Measure Moves to Florida House Judiciary Committee
After approval by the Civil Justice Subcommittee in February, the Florida House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will take up the civil remedies bill. Plaintiff attorneys have argued the bill places new limits on lawsuits that could make it more difficult for constituents to sue insurance companies or win damages in complicated lawsuits. The legislation will also remove certain requirements that insurance companies act in good faith and that they pay for their policyholders’ attorney’s fees when the insurer fails to properly pay a claim for benefits.
Davis Goldman Co-Managing Partner Jason Goldman says this bill is bad for Floridians and decreases the rights of all of the State’s residents. In a recent interview with the Daily Business Review’s Michael Mora, he cited a case in North Carolina with the negligence standard he said Florida is moving towards. In the case, a newlywed couple was driving behind a car when they hit an 18-wheeler, whose driver failed to put on blinkers or cones when he stopped on the highway. As a result, the wife died and the husband was severely injured, ending his military career. But because the husband was speeding and following too closely to the car before him moments before hitting the 18-wheeler, the husband could not sue for his wife’s death nor his alleged injuries in North Carolina due to being deemed partially at fault.
“Currently in Florida, if the husband were driving the car and was 10% at fault, he would still be able to recover 90% of his injuries,” Jason said. “In the regime proposed in this legislation, if the driver is 50.1% at fault, he can’t recover anything. Insurance companies are incentivized to try and alter our laws to limit their expenses and shift them to ordinary Floridians.”