DeSantis Expected To Address Tort Reform: What Does That Mean?
Governor DeSantis recently announced plans to address tort problems in Florida. But what does that really mean? Essentially, Florida lawmakers are being paid by insurance companies and businesses to pass legislation that limits how much money a plaintiff can recover in a lawsuit. It would also eliminate legal fees associated with filing lawsuits.
At this point, we don’t know what the legislation would look like, but DeSantis appears to be targeting one-way attorney fees. These are fees paid by insurance companies when a plaintiff wins a lawsuit.
In the past, Florida has placed damages caps on personal injury lawsuits. There is also broadscale debate that our rules of procedure make it hard to get a “junk” lawsuit dismissed. Republicans fear that this is encouraging a “cottage industry of litigation”. In other words, suing people is too profitable.
How will this impact you?
It really isn’t clear. We don’t have a piece of legislation to look at, and every legislative season, Republicans want to address tort reform in Florida. So, it isn’t exactly a surprise that we’re hearing about it now. In fact, it would be more surprising if we were not hearing about it. Further, the changes aren’t as bad as they could be. Personal injury lawyers are more concerned with damage caps than attorneys fees since we work primarily on contingency.
Everyone agrees that a system of torts is vital. Everyone agrees that injured people deserve to be compensated. The problem is how much, and when. In Florida, it can be very difficult for anyone who is being sued to get the suit dismissed before it’s scheduled for a jury. That is one of the major problems that we hear about every year. This year, however, we’re not hearing about it. But ultimately, efforts to characterize Florida as a “judicial hellhole” note that Florida’s rules of procedure make it very difficult on defendants.
This means that plaintiffs can force their suits into litigation without the case necessarily being strong. DeSantis and others are concerned that this places defendants in a position where it’s better to pay off the plaintiff than to defend the suit.
Ultimately, DeSantis should note that criminal defendants often find themselves in this same position. In many cases, it’s easier to take a plea than to fight charges, even if you’re innocent. This is especially true if you cannot afford to pay bail. Ultimately, you can only get out of jail by pleading guilty to the plea or waiting until your trial is set.
So, he’s right. But, this philosophy can be employed in other scenarios as well.
Talk to a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Halpern, Santos & Pinkert represent the interests of Florida plaintiffs who have been injured by negligent defendants. Call our Florida personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.