Bikers Beware: Florida's Recent Tort Reform Significantly Impacts Motorcyclists
Floridians who file a personal injury case should become familiar with how the new law can affect the outcome of their case. The new law, HB 837: Civil Remedies, affects how personal injury cases are litigated in three major ways:
- It shortened the statute of limitations for general negligence actions from four years to two years. This cuts the former limitations period in half, or the maximum amount of time after an injury that an injured party may file a lawsuit against a defendant.
- It drastically affects the ability of a plaintiff to collect any compensation from any defendant. Prior to this, Florida’s injury law operated under the 1986 Tort Reform and Insurance Act and its standard of pure comparative negligence. This meant that a plaintiff could be assigned up to 99% fault in an accident yet still be able to collect the other 1% from the other driver found at fault. Under the new law, a plaintiff who bears at least 51% responsibility for their own harm would not be able to recover any damages from a defendant. The new modified comparative negligence system holds a 51% bar on the plaintiff’s fault.
- The admissibility of medical bills as evidence was substantially limited. Before the new law, a plaintiff could introduce the entirety of their medical bills as evidence. The change intends for a plaintiff’s damages to better reflect the actual amounts paid for medical services. This change could have a significant impact on the total amount of damages a plaintiff is awarded.
Motorcyclists are particularly impacted by the new modified comparative negligence system in two ways:
- Not wearing a motorcycle helmet can be considered a form of comparative fault. This could be especially relevant if your injuries were head/neck/spinal injuries, as the defense could argue that a helmet would have prevented these injuries. As a result of the new modified comparative negligence standard, if the defense can show that the other driver was only 49% responsible for the accident and any injuries you sustained, then you would be stuck with a 51% fault finding, and as a result, the entire medical bill too.
- Motorcyclists do not qualify for personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance. Also known as no-fault insurance, PIP covers medical expenses, lost wages, and death benefits because of injuries suffered in a car crash. Without PIP, motorcyclists rely on legal action against negligent drivers.
If you’re injured in a car accident or motorcycle accident, it’s more important than ever to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer. With over 50 skilled attorneys, Rubenstein Law is here to help you get the compensation you deserve.
DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to provide general information to our readers. None of the information contained in this post should be construed to constitute legal or medical advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction and cases often turn on minor differences in fact. Do not rely exclusively on any of the information contained in this post. Always seek further assistance from a legal or medical professional where necessary.