Florida Tort Reform: What It Means for Your Personal Injury Case

Florida Tort Reform: HB 837 and What It Means for Your Personal Injury Case

Florida just passed HB 837 resulting in comprehensive legal reforms to Florida Law.  If you have a personal injury case, you need to pay attention as this affects you. Since being passed and becoming effective on March 24th, 2023, HB 837, has changed the landscape of Florida Tort Law as we know it. It’s not just a few minor tweaks – we are talking about major extensive changes to how fault is determined, how much you can recover in damages, and even how long you have to file a lawsuit.

As a Floridian or Non-Resident with a personal injury claim in the State of Florida, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back. In this post, I’ll break down the key changes and what they mean for you and your case. No legal jargon, no confusing terms – just straight talk to help you understand your rights and options since HB 837 became effective.

If you’ve been injured in Florida recently or have an ongoing case, you need to know about the sweeping changes to personal injury law since the enactment of HB 837. The Florida Tort Reform Act of 2023, also known as HB 837, has shaken things up in a big way. As someone who’s been practicing personal injury law in Florida for over a decade, I’ve seen firsthand how these reforms are affecting my clients. From shorter statutes of limitations (4 Years to 2 Years) to change in liability from “pure” comparative negligence to “modified” comparative negligence rules, there’s a lot to unpack. But don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through it. In this post, we’ll explore the key changes brought by HB 837 and what they mean for your personal injury claim. Whether you’re dealing with a car accident, slip and fall, or any other type of injury case involving the negligence of another, it’s crucial to understand how these reforms impact your ability to recover damages. So let’s dive in and make sure you’re fully informed and prepared to navigate this new legal landscape.

Understanding “Modified” Comparative Negligence

One of the most significant changes brought by Florida’s tort reform law is the shift from “Pure” to “Modified” comparative negligence. This new rule has a major impact on how fault is determined in injury cases and can greatly affect your ability to recover damages. Under the new modified comparative negligence system, fault is assigned to each party involved in an accident based on their percentage of responsibility. If you’re found to be 20% at fault for an accident, your damages would be reduced by 20%. But here’s the kicker: if you’re found to be more than 50% at fault, your claim will be denied, and if your case is in litigation, you cannot recover any damages at all as your case will be dismissed. That’s a big change from the old rule, where you could still recover damages even if you were 99% at fault for the incident.  The new standard does not apply in Medical Negligence Claims just so you are aware.

The Threshold for Recovering Damages

This new +50% threshold is a game-changer for personal injury cases in Florida. It means that even if you’re just slightly more at fault than the other party, you could be barred from recovering any compensation for your injuries. Let’s say you’re in a car accident and the other driver ran a red light, but you were also speeding. If a jury finds that you were more than 50% responsible for the accident because of your speeding, you wouldn’t be able to collect any damages from the other driver, even though they clearly broke the law by running the red light.  Your claim will be denied and your case will be dismissed if in litigation.  As an experienced personal injury attorney, I can tell you that this new rule is going to make it tougher for many injured Floridians to get the compensation they deserve. It’s more important than ever to have a skilled legal team on your side who knows how to build a strong case and fight for your rights under the new law.  While it is not a new phenomenon to argue liability, the decision to file a lawsuit on your case will receive even more stringent evaluation due to the costs involved as well as the likelihood of proving that you were 50% or less at fault for the incident at issue.  Further, I have seen insurance companies start to arbitrarily and subjectively assess greater fault just to simply deny a claim where, under the old pure comparative negligence system, liability would have been evenly shared/split at 50/50

The impact of HB 837 on medical damages compensation.

Another major change brought by Florida’s tort reform law is how medical damages are calculated and presented in personal injury cases. Under HB 837, there are new limits on what can be introduced as evidence when it comes to past and future medical expenses. In the past, with the exception of bills paid by Medicare or Medicaid, plaintiffs were permitted to board the full amount  of medical bills charged for services rendered.  This means the full bill would be presented to the jury without evidence of any adjustments or reductions and prior to post-verdict setoffs applied by the court for private insurance carriers such as auto insurance and/or health insurance.  Now, only evidence of medical expenses actually paid, regardless of the source, can be introduced.   Fur unpaid medical bills incurred in the past, the admissibility of evidence on these unpaid bills will turn on whether or not a plaintiff maintains private health insurance coverage or is covered by Medicare and/or Medicaid.  If a plaintiff receives care under a Letter of Protection and has health insurance coverage or simply does not submit to his/her health insurance company, then evidence as to what that insurance company would have paid/adjusted the bill to as well as the plaintiff’s out of pocket expenses would be admissible.  If a plaintiff does not have health insurance or has Medicare or Medicaid,  evidence would be presented that 120% of the Medicare reimbursement rate in effect would be presented.  If no applicable Medicare rate exists for the procedure code, then 170% of the Medicaid reimbursement rate would be presented as evidence.   So let’s say you have a $100,000 hospital bill from your accident injuries, but your health insurance pays/adjusts that bill down to $50,000. Under the new law, you can only present evidence of the $50,000 that was actually paid, not the original $100,000 bill. 

The same goes for future medical expenses. Now, with the exception of Medicare and Medicaid, you will need to provide evidence of the of “usual and customary” amount, which again, will depend on whether you have health insurance coverage or not, that could be satisfied from your health insurance coverage, if submitted, which would be admissible evidence of future damages.  If the plaintiff does not have health insurance, then the Medicare/Medicaid rates apply as discussed above.  This could make it harder to recover compensation for things like ongoing physical therapy or anticipated future surgeries. As someone who’s helped countless Floridians get the medical care they need after an accident, I know how important it is to factor in both past and future expenses. These new limits on medical damages evidence are just another reason why having an experienced personal injury lawyer is so critical to navigate the complex world created after HB 837 was enacted.

Letters of Protection and the “Worley Privilege”

Traditionally, Letters of Protection (“LOP”) were viewed as providing access to certain skilled specialists who would provide expensive invasive treatment measures like injections and/or surgery to help you on the road to recovery.  A patient who receives treatment under an LOP is not required to make payment up front or periodically to the medical service provider, but the medical service provider is entitled to receive payment from any settlement or judgment for an injured claimant/plaintiff.  Ultimately, The LOP allows payment to be delayed until the conclusion of the case and permits access and care to be given in exchange for the right of recovery when a settlement or judgment is secured.  The LOP was almost always attacked from a defense standpoint as a bias against the medical service provider and client.  The Defense’s rationale for bias is that the LOP induces the medical service provider to provide more favorable reports/bills/treatments/recommendations to help the underlying case by improving it from a medical standpoint to assure a better settlement or judgment.  HB 837 now requires the LOP to be disclosed and all medical bills incurred under it to be itemized and coded.  

Whether the Plaintiff was referred for treatment under the LOP must also be disclosed along with who referred the Plaintiff.  If the referral was made by the plaintiff’s attorney, the attorney-client privilege does not apply in this instance and must be disclosed.  The financial relationship between the medical service provider and the attorney is now relevant to the issue of bias.  Originally, the referral of a plaintiff by his/her attorney was considered a protected communication under the attorney-client privilege in accordance with the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men’s Christian Ass’n, Inc. 228 So. 2nd 19 (Fla. 2017).  The “Worley Privilege” as we knew it is now gone in light of HB 837.    

Choosing the Right Legal Representation

Why experience matters in personal injury law.

With all the changes brought by Florida’s tort reform law under HB 837, it’s more important than ever to have the right legal team in your corner who understand these changes. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the new rules and build the strongest possible case. When you are going up against insurance companies and their armies of lawyers, you want someone on your side who knows the ropes. That’s where experience comes in. A seasoned personal injury lawyer will have a deep understanding of the new tort reform law and how it impacts your case. They’ll know what evidence to gather, what arguments to make, and how to negotiate with the other side to get you the best possible outcome. At our firm, we’ve been handling personal injury cases in Florida for over 12 years. We’ve seen all the tricks and tactics that insurance companies use, and we know how to fight back. Our team is fully up to speed on the new tort reform law and ready to put our experience to work for you.

Contingency Fees Explained

Another big advantage of hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is that most work on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay anything upfront, and the lawyer only gets paid if they win your case by securing an injury settlement or judgment. With a contingency fee arrangement, your lawyer has a direct financial incentive to get you the best possible result. They’re not just racking up billable hours; they’re invested in your success. At our firm, we work on a contingency fee basis for all our personal injury cases. We believe everyone should have access to top-quality legal representation, regardless of their financial situation. If we don’t win your case, you don’t owe us a dime. So, if you’ve been injured in Florida, don’t let the new tort reform law scare you away from seeking justice. With the right legal team on your side, you can still fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today to learn more about your rights and options under the new law.


Florida’s new tort reform law is a lot to take in, especially if you’re in the middle of a personal injury case. But here’s the bottom line: this law changes the game when it comes to proving fault, recovering damages, and filing your lawsuit on time.

The good news? You don’t have to navigate this new legal landscape alone as that is why we are here to help you. If you’ve got a personal injury claim in Florida, now’s the time to team up with an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of the new law and can fight for the compensation you deserve.

Remember, the clock is ticking under the new statute of limitations, so don’t wait to take action. Arm yourself with knowledge, find a skilled legal ally, and get ready to stand up for your rights in the wake of Florida’s tort reform.  We hope this article has been informative and that you choose Attorney Michael Appel, PLC. to handle your personal injury case if you have been injured as the result of the negligence of another/business.

Have a Personal Injury Case? Contact Attorney Michael Appel Today

When you need a personal injury law firm in Miami, FL, that actively seeks compensation for you and your affected loved ones, turn to our personal injury law firm. Call (786) 800-3491 to book an appointment with Attorney Michael Appel, PLC.

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