Tort Reform Changes In Florida Mean Defendants Get Away With Careless Behavior
Recently, the Florida legislature passed new laws, called “tort reform.” Tort reform is a word that is sold to the public as being helpful to society, or avoiding lawsuits, but really what tort reform does is hurt victims, and make it easier for careless Defendants to get away with their actions.
Regardless of what you personally believe about tort reform, it is important to take note of the sweeping reforms that these new laws create.
Shorter Time Limits
One big change is that the time limit to file most negligence cases will now be shortened from the old 4 year time limit, to only 2 years. That means that attorneys and injury victims have to act fast.
Remember that when you see an attorney, you may still need medical attention or your attorney may need to do investigations, so you shouldn’t wait until right before the expiration of this time period to hire an attorney.
Modified Comparative Negligence
It used to be that if you were partly responsible for your own accident, as the victim, you could still recover the amount that the Defendant was liable for. So, if you were 80% responsible for your accident, and your damages were $100,00, you could still recover 20%, or $20,000.
But that isn’t the case anymore. Now, if you are 51% or more at fault for your own accident, you can recover nothing. Hypothetically, if you are catastrophically injured, and you suffer $1 million in damages, and a jury finds you to be 51% responsible for the accident, you now can recover nothing at all.
However, this change does not apply to medical malpractice cases, in which the old standard of comparative fault still remains in effect.
Negligent Security Changes
In another change sure to hurt accident victims, Florida’s negligent security laws are now changing. Now, a jury can consider the fault or liability of the criminal.
It used to be that Defendants couldn’t do this—negligent security is an action for negligence, and a criminal actor’s criminal actions are intentional, and as such, a jury could not place liability on the criminal actor. Now they can.
Of course, most criminals don’t have insurance for their crimes, meaning that when and if a jury apportions liability for a criminal action on the criminal, it is unlikely a victim will ever get compensated for what the criminal actually owes. The property that failed to take measures to protect its visitors, will now be able to point the finger at the criminal, and avoid any liability for the property owner’s failure to take measures to prevent criminal activity.
The law also makes it harder to sue landlords for crime that happens on their property, assuming the landlord complies with certain safety requirements, like lighting, one inch deadbolts, peephole viewers, and the use of security camera systems.
Contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian and schedule a consultation today for help or with questions about how the law can help you get compensation after an accident.