In recent months, Florida has seen significant litigation reform. In a December 2022 special session, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 2A, which makes sweeping changes to the regulation of insurance companies, the property insurance claims process, reinsurance and more. Today, Governor DeSantis signed HB 837, further reforming the litigation landscape in the state of Florida.
Below we provide a quick outline of some important components of this new legislation.
Lodestar Fee. Fla. Stat. § 57.104(2).
It is to be presumed that the lodestar fee is sufficient and reasonable in a case in which attorney fees are determined by or awarded by the court. A claimant may overcome this presumption only in a rare and exceptional circumstance, by demonstrating that he or she could not have otherwise reasonably retained competent counsel.
Attorney Fee Awards Eliminated with Limited Exception. Fla. Stat. § 86.121.
The statute of limitations for negligence actions is two years (reduced from four years). Note that this reduced statute of limitations applies to actions accruing after the effective date of this act.
Duty of Good Faith
Competing Claims in a Bad Faith Action
If two or more third-party claimants make competing claims arising out of a single occurrence, which in total exceed the insured’s available policy limits, the insurer does not commit bad faith by failing to pay all or any portion of the available limits to one or more of the third-party claimants if, within ninety days after receiving notice of the competing claims, the insurer either:
Damages recoverable by a claimant in a personal injury or wrongful death action may not exceed:
If a criminal act is committed by a third-party on the premises of a multi-family residential property, the owner or principal operator of that property has a presumption against liability. Note that this section does not create a private cause of action and that the burden of proof is on the owner or operator to demonstrate substantial implementation of the security measures specified below.
Florida’s damages apportionment standard changes from a pure comparative negligence system to a modified comparative negligence system. Parties to negligence actions (but not in actions for damages for personal injury or wrongful death arising out of medical negligence) found to be more than 50% at fault for their harm do not recover damages. For example, in an accident causing a plaintiff $100,000 in damages: