In March of this year, the Florida legislature passed a new tort reform law. In our June newsletter, we discussed some of the ramifications this new law may have on you or your family members who may be injured in an accident. In this month’s newsletter, we will discuss four ways you can protect yourself in light of the new tort reform bill.
The first way you can protect yourself, is to speak with a lawyer right away. One of the big changes that resulted from the tort law, was the reduction in statute of limitations from four years to two years. Because of this, if you have a case, it would be in your best interest to have a lawyer help you through this process to make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines and to ensure you go about your case the right way.
The second way to protect yourself, is to seek medical treatment right away. As a reminder, Florida requires you to seek medical treatment within fourteen days of your accident in order to activate your PIP benefits. Your PIP benefits are what help pay for your medical bills through your auto insurance as you treat for your injuries. If you don’t treat within fourteen days, that doesn’t mean you can’t present a claim for your injuries and potentially get a settlement; but it can have an impact on your bills. Also, the sooner you start treatment, the quicker you can receive treatment for your injuries, and get the care that you need.
The third way to protect yourself, is to get a dashcam for your vehicle. Our office has always recommended our clients get dashcams, but it’s more important now since the new tort reform law. Another change the new law made was to Florida’s negligence rule. Florida use to be a pure comparative negligence state, meaning as long as you weren’t 100% at-fault for an accident, you could still pursue a claim for your injuries. But the new tort reform law changed that to if you are more than 50% at-fault you are completely barred from bringing a claim for your damages and injuries. This new comparative negligence law will have major consequences for people in comparative situations. We see many cases where a client is being placed at-fault for an accident, but without any proof that they aren’t at-fault, they don’t have a case. This is why having a dashcam is so important. Being able to pull up this footage to the police or showing it to the insurance company can make all the difference in proving your case.
The last way you can protect yourself is to have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy. In a state like Florida that doesn’t require people to carry bodily injury coverage on their auto policy, it is so important to be prepared and protect yourself and carry uninsured motorist coverage. It’s always best to protect yourself and be prepared, especially after the new changes from Florida tort law.