Florida House Bill 837 Attempts to Change How Damages Are Recovered

Florida State Legislature

Posted on March 15, 2023

With the proposed law HB 837, Florida’s House of Representatives is attempting to introduce changes that could dramatically shift how damages are recovered for victims of negligent acts. The bill seeks to reduce or eliminate negligence-based claims for damages which may be available under certain circumstances.

From medical malpractice suits to complex business disputes and beyond, the passage of HB 837 could mean significant reductions for victims’ rights.

Overview of Florida House Bill 837 and Its Purpose

House Bill 837 proposes to change Florida’s negligence-based damage recovery system from one using pure comparative negligence to modified comparative negligence. Proponents of the bill argue that the proposed changes will curb rampant lawsuit abuse in the state. However, the many people and industries opposed to the bill point out the significant reduction in protections for the individual while strengthening protections for large corporations.

Some of the proposed changes include the following:

  • Change from pure to modified comparative negligence
  • Modification of bad faith laws
  • Medical damage caps
  • Reduced statute of limitations
  • Reduction of who can be held accountable

Proposed Changes to How Damages Are Recovered Under the Current Rules

While the Florida House is still debating and amending the bill, below are the proposed changes as of this article’s writing.

Change From Pure to Modified Comparative Negligence

A key feature of the bill is to modify the current legal system to only allow for damage recovery from negligent acts if the victim is less than 50% responsible for the accidental situation.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

In Florida, the predominant legal principle that is applied when determining reparation for an incident caused by another person is comparative negligence. This means that your compensation from a defendant may be altered based on how much responsibility or fault it is considered you held in the accident. For instance, if one defendant is perceived 60% responsible and a plaintiff 40%, then only 60% compensation will be granted instead of receiving full restitution.

Comparative negligence has two separate types. Florida currently uses pure comparative negligence.

What Is Pure Comparative Negligence?

In a nutshell, pure comparative negligence, which is what Florida currently operates under, means that if a person is considered not responsible for any portion of an accident, they can recover that percentage of compensation for their own damages. So in these states, even if you are mostly to blame, up to 99%, you can still get some money back.

What Is Modified Comparative Negligence?

The proposed House Bill 837 threatens to make significant modifications to Florida’s existing legal framework, which could hinder victims’ rights. If this bill is passed, anyone found to be 51% liable for an incident cannot seek reparation from the other party responsible (even if they are liable for 49%). This significant change should not be overlooked and instead taken seriously by all members of our community.

HB 837 Proposes Changes to Bad Faith Laws

Many organizations and Floridians have deep concerns about the proposed changes to the existing Bad Faith laws.

What Are Bad Faith Laws?

Bad faith laws are established to ensure that the regular Floridian is kept safe from unscrupulous business practices, specifically regarding the handling of claims by insurance companies. Should an insurance company act in an unfair manner and deny your claim or neglect to defend you from other parties’ accusations, they are exhibiting bad faith.

How Will HB 837 Change Florida’s Bad Faith Laws?

If passed as it currently stands, HB 837 would modify Florida’s existing law to require that insurance companies determined to be acting in bad faith receive written notice of the alleged violation and then be provided an opportunity to correct their behavior within 120 days of the claim. This makes bringing about a bad faith lawsuit more difficult because the plaintiff would be barred from filing the lawsuit if the insurance company rectified the bad faith behavior within 120 days of receiving the complaint.

Medical Damage Caps

]Currently, in Florida, if you get hurt because of another person’s carelessness, you can collect the actual dollar value of your medical treatment. If passed, the changes proposed by HB 837 would limit the monetary recovery available to you when you are injured.

How HB 837 Would Change Insured Medical Bills

Specifically, the bill would make it so doctors have to charge an amount for services that are determined acceptable by insurance companies.

How HB 837 Impacts Medical Payments for Uninsured Patients

If an uninsured individual requires medical treatment, the House bill restricts reimbursements at the Medicare rate. If a Medicare rate is unavailable, 140% of Medicaid’s rate will be used for reimbursement. This change to current law is profoundly concerning for uninsured Floridians. While the proposed law would require reimbursement at Medicare and Medicaid rates, it does not provide a provision requiring doctors to use those rates for billing.

Reduction of Who Can Be Held Accountable

If you are hurt due to another party’s actions, but the property owner’s negligence is considered to have added to your injuries, then under Florida’s current system, they can be held accountable for those damages. However, House Bill 837 dramatically reduces the amount and instances in which a property owner would bear responsibility for such cases.

HB 837 Would Reduce the Statute of Limitations

With Florida’s current legal framework, victims of negligence have four years from the time of the incident to file a suit. However, HB 837 proposes reducing this timeline to two years. This is a precarious situation for those whose losses are extensive and require more than just two years in order to heal completely and understand the full scope of harm caused by another.

How the Reduced Statute of Limitations Will Ripple to Other Laws

Expert attorneys on the Farah & Farah Legal Live radio show recently discussed how modifying the statute of limitations can create a domino effect throughout other laws. “It really takes away people’s right to have access to the court system. You have to question the validity of why that is being done,” said Eddie Farah.

Additionally, with less time to submit lawsuits, more suits will be filed in order to not miss the legal deadline. Unfortunately, this may lead to longer court cases as victims are still figuring out full damages, consequently causing further damage to their quality of life.

Attorney Fee Reform

Initially, HB 837 included the possibility of eliminating attorney fees for insurance cases. Due to fierce opposition from those who opposed this bill, however, that provision has been taken out. As a result, the amended version of HB 837 would still allow one-way attorney fees in claims pertaining to insurance company coverage refusal.

How Does House Bill 837 Impact Florida Residents?

Overall, the proposed changes in House Bill 837 would result in major shifts in the recovery of damages for Floridians. Ultimately, how Florida defines and awards monetary compensation for damages is integral in efforts to protect victims of negligence and seek justice for them. HB 837 weakens these victim protections.

Are You Concerned About HB 837?

If you have concerns about HB 837 passing and becoming Florida law, reach out to your State Representative. You can visit this link to find contact information.

In Your Most Trying Times, We’re Here for You

Regardless of the outcomes in the chambers of Florida’s government, Farah and Farah will always be here to support you in your time of need. We will fight for you and speak out for the protection of your rights.

At Farah and Farah, our clients are always the priority. We understand that every accident requires a personalized strategy for success, so we strive to create a tailored plan that fits your individual situation. Our dedicated team is committed to providing each client with undivided attention in order to secure an optimal result.

Don’t wait to reach out if you or a loved one has been injured due to another person’s carelessness. We are passionate about protecting your rights and helping you gain compensation for any losses incurred. You won’t be alone, we will stay with you every step of the way.





Disclaimer –

You may have noticed that Farah and Farah is not a news agency. Rather, we are a seasoned group of personal injury attorneys and many other legal professionals all working together to help make injured people whole again. We present current events like the updates on HB 837 to explore the facts available at the time of publication from a legal perspective. To do that and still be timely, we rely on what’s known when a post goes live. That means, sometimes information can change as the investigation continues. Our sole intent is to educate and empower the general public with knowledge should they ever find themselves in a similar situation.

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