House Bill 837 was signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on March 24, 2023. The so-called “tort reform” bill is intended to address rising property and liability insurance costs. Substantive provisions contained within HB 837 include the following:
- The statute of limitations period for negligence claims has been shortened from four (4) years to two (2) years.
- Florida has shifted from a comparative negligence system to a modified comparative negligence system. Previously, a plaintiff/claimant found to be 75% responsible for his/her own damages could still recover 25% of his/her damages from the other party(ies). Now, if a plaintiff/claimant is found to be more than 50% responsible for his/her own damages, then he/she is completely barred from any recovery.
- In general, there is now a heightened standard to be met in order to prevail on a bad faith claim against an insurance carrier.
- There are new limitations on the amount of attorneys’ fees which may be awarded to insureds who prevail in litigation against their carrier.
- There are new limitations on liability for multi-family dwellings where the injured/aggrieved party did not have a legal right to be on the property when the incident/injury occurred.
**Two important take-aways for community associations: (1) be proactive and exercise diligence when reviewing potential claims against third-parties / insurance carriers, and (2) note that courts are backlogged as much or more than ever, as some have estimated that as many as 100,000 new cases were filed in Florida last month by parties seeking to avoid the limitations imposed by this new legislation. In short, if your association is involved in litigation, be patient – court calendars are likely to be booked far in advance.
House Bill 837 Text: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2023/837/?Tab=Citations
RPG Blog Archive:
- RPG Law: Recent Case Results
- Summary of New Legislation Impacting Florida Community Associations (2023 Legislation)
- Summary of House Bill 919 (2023 Legislation): The Homeowners’ Associations Bill of Rights
- Summary of House Bill 437 (2023 Legislation): Storage of items out of view & the right to display flags
- Summary of Senate Bill 154 (2023 Legislation): Milestone inspections, reserve studies and reserve funding