On March 24, 2023, Florida underwent a substantial legal transformation when Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 837 into law, marking the beginning of a new era for lawsuits in the state. This legislation fundamentally altered how Florida handles cases where injuries occur due to someone else’s actions and the allocation of responsibility for compensation.
Previously, Florida determined damages based on the degree of fault in accidents. But things have changed; if an injured party shares some blame for their injuries, they may now receive less compensation than before. This change reshaped the landscape of lawsuits and compensation in Florida, impacting all those involved in injury cases.
Understanding Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence is a legal concept that comes into play when both the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) and the defendant (the person being sued) share some responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries. Instead of dismissing the plaintiff’s claim outright, the jury now considers the defendant’s negligence when determining compensation.
For example, if the jury determines that the defendant is 75% responsible for the damages and the plaintiff bears 25% of the blame, the plaintiff can only recover 75%. This ensures a fair distribution of responsibility based on each party’s level of fault.
Florida adopted the comparative negligence doctrine in 1973, moving away from the contributory negligence doctrine that had previously barred plaintiffs from any recovery if they were partially at fault. This change aimed for a more equitable distribution of liability.
Effective March 24, 2023, Florida transitioned from a pure comparative negligence state to a modified comparative negligence state. Under the previous standard, plaintiffs could still recover damages even if they were more than 50% liable for their negligence. However, under the new standard, if the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, they cannot recover any damages from the defendant. Medical malpractice claims remain unaffected by this change.
Impact on Negligence Cases
This modified comparative negligence standard affects many negligence cases in Florida, except for medical malpractice claims. Cases filed before March 24, 2023, continue under the pure comparative negligence standard, while those initiated after this date adhere to the new modified comparative negligence principle. This transformation was a significant change in Florida’s legal landscape.
Navigating Your Personal Injury Case
In Florida, the application of comparative negligence law can have a big impact on the outcome of your personal injury case. Contact Leo Valdes today to guide you through your legal rights and help secure appropriate compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and emotional distress.
Serving the cities of Miami, Homestead, and Hialeah.