Kurzban Kurzban Tetzeli & Pratt | Attorneys At Law

How HB-837 will affect your rights as a Miami personal injury victim

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2023 | Personal Injury |

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a landmark bill into law that will greatly restrict the ability of personal injury victims statewide to collect rightful compensation. As a Miami resident, you need to know how HB-837 could make things more difficult for you (but not impossible) if a negligent motorist, hospital, doctor or other party harms you or causes a family member’s untimely death.

How HB-837 puts insurance companies over Floridians

There appear to be five main ways HB-837 harms injury victims and benefits insurance companies:

  1. The statute of limitations on car accident claims is cut in half, from four years to two, effective immediately. If you were injured in a crash before March 24, 2021, it’s now too late to file a lawsuit.
  2. Changes to modified comparative fault that require plaintiffs to be found no more than 50 percent liable to recover any damages.
  3. The end of the requirement for the insurance company to pay reasonable attorneys’ fees for the plaintiff when they prevail at trial. This repeals a law that had been on the book in Florida since 1893.
  4. Changes to how medical malpractice damages are calculated, starting with if a bill related to treating the malpractice injuries has been “satisfied.” If it has, evidence is limited to what the plaintiff “actually paid,” not what they were billed. If the bill has not been “satisfied,” HB-837 sets out several types of admissible evidence of damages related to billing (see below).
  5. Immunity from bad faith claims for insurers if it a) tenders the policy limit or amount demanded by the insured within 90 days of receiving notice of a claim, even if it did initially handle the claim in bad faith, and even if the claimant rejects the claim and receives an excess judgment; or b) the case involves multiple claimants, the insurer files an interpleader action “within 90 days after receiving notice of the competing claims in excess of the available policy limits.” This arguably removes incentives for insurance companies to act proactively and in good faith.

For cases where the plaintiff’s remedial medical bills have not been “satisfied,” acceptable evidence includes:

  • Evidence of the amount the insurer is “obligated to pay the health care provider to satisfy the charges… plus the claimant’s share of medical expenses under the insurance contract or regulation” if the claimant has private coverage.
  • If the claimant treats under a letter of protection instead of their health insurance, evidence of what their insurer would have paid for the treatment.
  • If the claimant does not have private health insurance, either 120 percent of the Medicare reimbursement rate for the treatment, or 170 percent of the Medicaid rate if Medicare has no applicable rate.
  • Evidence of “reasonable amounts billed to the claimant for medically necessary treatment or… services provided.”

The new law treats evidence of expected future medical expenses similarly. There is no cap on recovery for past and future medical bills, though HB-837 originally contained one.

Recovering damages is still possible

Overall, HB-837 will make complete recovery of damages more challenging after a severe car accident, botched medical procedure, or other major negligence. But it has not taken away your right to compensation. It is more critical than ever that you find a personal injury attorney with the experience and know-how to navigate the current law and deliver the best possible outcome.



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