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Florida Tort Reform Act will affect property owners

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2023 | Insurance Law and Litigation

Property owners in Florida count on their insurance companies to pay fairly for covered damage to their homes or businesses.

They can also expect them to do so promptly and without trying to exploit the property owners’ vulnerable situation or use the insurance company’s superior financial position.

When insurance carriers do not make good on their obligations, those in the greater Miami area can invoke Florida law to pursue compensation. Sometimes, they may be able to ask for more compensation than the coverage limits of their policy.

This is still true despite recent watershed legislation.  However, the Florida Tort Reform Act 2023, referred to as HB-837, made sweeping changes to these rights and to this state’s legal system generally.

The new law may be a disappointment to many Florida property owners

According to supporters, the law aligns Florida with most other states and, in the long run, will save Florida citizens money. Opponents argue the measure leaves victims, including those who suffer property damage, at the mercy of their insurance carriers.

Lawsuits over this change are likely, according to one industry website which summarized the provisions of the new measure.

The full effect of this law remains to be seen. That said, there are at least a couple of items in the law which may interest those who might have property damage claims:

  • The law limits the ability to claim that an insurance carrier acted in bad faith so long as the insurer responds promptly, that is, within 90 days, to a settlement demand.
  • It clarifies how Florida’s courts are to award attorney fees. The upshot is the property owners may be unable to recover all the compensation for legal bills that they could under the prior law.
  • The law also made several important changes that will apply to liability cases against private individuals and Florida businesses.

Those who have pending insurance claims or who find they must file an insurance claim with their insurance company should make sure they understand how this law could impact their cases.