What to Know About HB 837
HB 837 completely transformed how the personal injury process works in Florida. This legislation, which took effect on March 24, 2023, shortens the civil statute of limitations, changes the state’s negligence law, and dictates how attorneys recover their fees.
What exactly does this mean for you?
It makes considering legal help more important than ever. Without a lawyer’s guidance, you could find yourself paying out of pocket for certain expenses or missing your case’s deadline entirely. If you were injured by someone else’s negligence, our personal injury team would pursue financial justice.
HB 837 Significantly Alters Florida’s Personal Injury Claims System
Here are the basics of HB 837 and the role it plays in current and future injury cases:
The Civil Statute of Limitations Has Been Cut in Half
Before, under Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a), you had four years to file a personal injury lawsuit. Now, you have just two years. This could spell trouble for injured claimants who haven’t yet filed lawsuits. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident, we encourage you to speak with our legal team immediately about your options. We recommend you do this regardless of whether you feel injured.
Time is of the essence when it comes to your accident case—the sooner you get in touch with our team, the earlier we can start investigating, preserving evidence, and building a robust case on your behalf.
Your Level of Fault Is Now More Significant to Your Case
Before HB 837 was enacted, Florida operated under a pure comparative negligence system. This means that Florida accident victims were able to recover compensation for their injuries as long as they were not completely responsible for the accident.
Things have changed. Now:
- Florida operates on a comparative negligence system.
- If you are more than 50 percent responsible for the accident or your injuries, you can’t recover damages.
- Proving fault is more important than ever in Florida injury cases. If the other party can prove that you are more responsible than they are, they’re not liable.
This is another reason to consider partnering with a personal injury attorney from our firm. The team at Meldon Law has more than 50 years of experience. In that time, we’ve made lasting relationships with accident reconstruction experts and healthcare professionals who can corroborate your story. With our firm’s support, you don’t have to worry about not having enough supporting evidence to establish the other party’s liability.
The Insurance Company Will Only Pay Up to the Policy Limits, Regardless of What Your Case Is Worth
To understand this aspect of HB 837, here’s a hypothetical scenario. A car accident injures three people. Cumulatively, their damages total $100,000. Yet, the liable party’s insurance policy has a limit of $50,000.
This means that the injured parties would have to make that $50,000 account for all of their medical bills and other related expenses. Under HB 837, the insurer is not liable for the remaining $50,000.
Our attorneys are prepared for these situations. We will fight for every dollar you deserve.
Insurance Companies Only Pay Attorney’s Fees in Certain Situations
Previously, if you filed a lawsuit against an insurance company and won, you could seek attorney’s fees as compensable damage.
Now, that’s no longer the case. The insurance company will only cover a plaintiff’s attorney’s fees in very limited situations.
However, you shouldn’t let this prevent you from hiring an attorney.
Our firm operates on a contingency-fee-basis. This means that a portion of your settlement pays for our help, so you don’t pay us out of pocket.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Right to Recover Compensation After an Accident
How HB 837 affects your case depends on your circumstances. In general, however, this law:
- Shortens your filing period
- Emphasizes fault and bars certain parties from recovering damages
- Restricts when insurers must pay attorney’s fees
- Limits how much an injured person can recover through an insurance claim
Supporters claim that this bill will curb insurance fraud, a problem that costs insurance companies millions of dollars each year. Opponents note that this unjustly punishes injured claimants navigating the already complex legal process.
Regardless of whether or not this bill will prevent insurance fraud, it won’t help policyholders or injured parties.
In an interview with the Ocala Star, partner Carey Meldon said, “Nothing in the bill requires insurance companies to reduce premiums they’re charging the people.”
Discuss Your Case With an Attorney
Regardless of politics or insurance rates, one thing’s certain: “HB 837 will affect people in the state of Florida with regards to their ability to make a claim against insurance companies. The bill was designed to further insurance companies’ interests, not the insured’s interests,” according to partner Carey Meldon.
He echoed this sentiment in his Ocala Star interview, saying, HB 837 will “give more power to the insurance companies to bully people.”
Whether it stops you from recovering damages is another story. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself financially is to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer. Carey stresses, “It’s now more important than ever to call a lawyer who’s informed about the new law to determine if your rights have been affected and how they’ve been affected.”
Check With Your Insurance Provider About the Coverage You Carry
Given the recent changes to Florida’s claims process, you want to be prepared for anything––including a collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. So, you should contact your insurance provider and ask:
- How HB 837 affects Florida’s accident claims process
- What compensation insurance could offer following an accident
- Whether you could benefit from increasing your coverage limits or adding policies, such as uninsured motorist protection
- What other options do you have following an accident
Now is also a good time to check your health insurance policy’s details. That is because, as mentioned in the previous section, the other party’s insurance may not fully cover your healthcare expenses. You don’t want to pay a cent out of pocket when it comes to medical bills. Checking with your healthcare provider and evaluating your policy’s limits could empower you to take out a bigger policy when open enrollment starts.
Connect With Meldon Law to Learn More
Our founder, Jeffrey Meldon, says HB 837 is “a money grab by the insurance carriers that is only going to hurt ordinary Floridians who are involved in serious accidents.” This bill will make things difficult, but we won’t stop fighting for you.
It is very important that you talk with us as soon as possible to see if your rights were affected as a result of the bill change. Dial (800) 373-8000 for a free consultation. We will do everything in our power to get you the compensation you deserve.