2012 Florida Legislative Session

2012 Florida Legislative Session

As the new year begins, members of the Florida state legislature are at work trying to pass bills that will affect all of us.  In the midst of bills that will be damaging to consumers and those who suffer personal injury losses, there is a sole piece of legislation that spells good news for the public; it is known in Tallahassee as HB 4023 and it has been introduced to the Judiciary Committee by Darryl Rouson.  This bill will essentially repeal an existing ban on the recovery of wrongful death-related damages by the adult children or parents of adult children in relation to an issue of medical malpractice.  The bill is a breath of fresh air for those who have suffered tremendous losses.  The courageous bill, first introduced in August of 2011, would become effective on the first of July this year.  Currently, the bill is “in committee.”  We will keep you updated on that issue as it develops.

Now, for the clouds surrounding the sunshine: there are a great deal of bills proposed in the state legislature which fly in the face of the good work put forth by Darryl Rouson.  One such bill is HB 427, introduced by Kathleen Passidomo.  The bill is being opposed by the Florida Justice Association, a group that represents plaintiff attorneys (like the ones in this firm).  The bill is being opposed because it is being hailed as a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ for insurance companies.

The bill affects claims made against insurance companies emanating from unreasonable or unethical denial of coverage – such claims against the insurance companies are known as “bad faith” claims because they emanate from a situation in which the insurance companies act in bad faith.  HB 427, if passed, will give insurance companies up to sixty days to pay claims, and no bad faith claims would be permitted if the insurance companies made payments within that time frame.  The sixty days rule is bad news because often times a case of bad faith is not discovered until long after the incident occurs.

Another bill in dispute in Tallahassee has been filed in companion form by Larry Metz and Garret Richter.  The twin bills propose adopting federal standards for the admittance of expert witnesses in a jury trial.  The bill would mean that for an expert witness to testify they must meet five requirements rather than simply satisfy the requirement of a given scientific method. Such a limit would make it harder for a plaintiff to prove their case before a jury.  Furthermore, in switching to the federal standard, an extra day (or more) of pretrial testimony would typically be required at a minimum cost of $10,000.  And guess who that $10,000 would be charged to?  That’s right, the plaintiffs representing the injured.

Finally, it just wouldn’t be the Florida state legislature if there wasn’t an issue of PIP reform in the state capital.  PIP is the acronym for Personal Injury Protection, a state-mandated $10,000 injury insurance policy that each Florida driver must be covered under.  Jim Boyd is sponsoring the pro-business, anti-consumer Comprehensive Insurance Fraud Investigation and Prevention Act.  Such a bill would do away with Florida’s no-fault insurance law.  In lieu of the existing law, the bill offers required payments for emergency medical services as well as medical care and funeral benefits under the fault-based system.  Both bills are presently in the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee of the Floridastate legislature.

Make sure to keep up with all of the new laws being proposed in your state government – with issues like the ones listed above, the state laws tend to have a much bigger impact on your lives than the federal laws.  With the 2012 presidential election season heating up, the importance state laws are often times put in the backdrop of policy discussions.  However, their importance cannot be understated.  Stay informed and stay safe.  If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Law Offices of Aronberg & Aronberg at 561-266-9191 or email us at daronberg@build.simple.biz.

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