According to TampaBay.com, Florida’s court clerks were overwhelmed by case influx before approval of new lawsuit regulations. The recently passed law intended to reduce certain types of lawsuits led to a last-minute filing surge, causing clerk offices to struggle in the days prior.
On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis enacted House Bill 837, legislation designed to decrease frivolous lawsuits related to insurance and personal injury claims. Expecting the bill’s approval, litigants swamped local court clerks with new civil claims in the days before its enactment. Governor Ron DeSantis enacted House Bill 837 on Friday, legislation aiming to decrease frivolous lawsuits related to insurance and personal injury claims. Expecting the bill’s approval, litigants swamped local court clerks with new civil claims in the days before its enactment.
“Every big clerk I’ve talked to is experiencing a flood of cases being filed,” said Ken Burke, Pinellas County’s Circuit Court Clerk and Comptroller.
In Pinellas, auto negligence cases filed between March 17 and the previous Thursday totaled 2,085, compared to 50 during the same period a year earlier.
Commercial establishment negligence cases also surged, rising from six to 355 during that time.
The trigger was House Bill 837, a comprehensive reform of the state’s legal system enacted by lawmakers last week.
The bill represents a culmination of insurance companies’ long-standing efforts to make it more difficult and costly to sue them in Florida. Republican lawmakers had previously provided similar protections for property insurance companies, arguing that litigation was increasing homeowners’ insurance costs.
The new legislation expanded these changes to other insurance categories, such as auto, health, life, and liability. Among other provisions, the law:
- Reduced the lawsuit filing window from four years to two.
- Required policyholders to cover their own attorney fees in lawsuits against insurers, reversing a 130-year-old law.
- Limited the amount claimants could recover for medical expenses in negligence lawsuits.
- Mandated juries in lawsuits against apartment complexes and other establishments with lax security to consider the role of criminals—like the Parkland shooter—when determining negligence levels.
The swift passage of these changes prompted some Republican lawmakers to hesitate. Four GOP senators joined most Democrats in opposing the bill last week. Former President Donald Trump labeled it an “insurance company bailout” and criticized DeSantis for supporting it.
“Why the rush to enact this law? Ask yourself that,” said lawyer Curry Pajcic, the Florida Justice Association President.
The law took effect immediately upon DeSantis’ signing on Friday morning instead of the regular July 1 start date. This rapid turnaround prompted attorneys statewide to file cases before the deadline. Pajcic stated that most of these lawsuits would have been settled out of court and only filed if the legislation had been enacted.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of another person or corporation, you could be entitled to recover substantial financial compensation. The time to file your claim is limited by state law, so do not delay in contacting our national product injury law firm. Parker Waichman LLP is a leading national injury law firm with extensive experience in handling auto recall cases. Our injury attorneys are ready to help you receive just monetary compensation.
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