Understanding Florida’s Tort Reform Rules
Governor Ron DeSantis announced major changes to Florida’s rules regarding tort reform. While we won’t go into all of the new changes, it is important for Florida residents to understand how the new rules will impact personal injury lawsuits moving forward. Among the major changes to the rules, Florida will move from a system of pure comparative negligence to a system of contributory negligence. Below, we’ll discuss what that means and how it will impact future personal injury lawsuits.
Understanding pure comparative negligence
Pure comparative negligence is a system that allows a plaintiff to file a lawsuit even when the majority of the blame falls on them. In cases of traffic liability, blame may be assigned to both drivers, but one driver may have sustained more injuries than the other. In that case, the driver would be able to file a lawsuit against the other driver even if they were 90% liable for the incident. They would only be able to recover 10% of the overall damages award, and the other driver would also be able to collect on their injuries as well. But in some cases, especially in cases involving serious or permanent injury, it may be worthwhile to file suit anyway.
Florida used to operate on a system of pure comparative negligence which made it very difficult for defendants to get a lawsuit dismissed in the courts. For that reason, there were serious concerns over Florida’s tort rules that have recently been changed to favor defendants in these cases.
Understanding contributory negligence
Contributory negligence is another way of handling torts. The majority of states now use contributory negligence with Florida being the latest to adopt the rule. In these states, a plaintiff can only file suit if they are less than 50% responsible for their injury. This bars cases like the one mentioned above where a plaintiff is deemed to be 51% or more responsible for their own injuries.
This is less likely to impact traffic accidents than it is to impact other types of lawsuits such as product liability suits. In a product liability lawsuit, a plaintiff would only have to establish that the defendant was partly liable for their injuries to get the lawsuit in front of a jury. The same can be said for premises liability lawsuits.
How will this impact my personal injury case?
It will be more difficult to get your personal injury lawsuit heard by a jury and defendants will have more incentive to blame the victim in cases where an injury is established. However, the majority of lawsuits filed against product manufacturers will not be impacted by the new rule and it will prevent countersuits in traffic accident cases in which the party who is mostly at fault could countersue on the basis of comparative negligence.
Talk to a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Halpern, Santos & Pinkert represent the interests of Florida plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits. Call our Florida personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin preparing your claim immediately.