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How Tort Law Can Affect Your Personal Injury Case

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After being injured in an accident, the last thing you’re probably worried about is tort law. There’s a good chance you may not even be familiar with the term. However, tort law plays a large role in a personal injury case. 

So, if you’re planning on seeking compensation for your damages it’s a good idea to at least have a basic understanding of tort law. Navigating the complexities of tort law is rarely easy. Adding to the potential challenges are the recent changes in Florida’s tort laws which take effect in 2023.

What is Tort Law

The premise of tort law is pretty simple. The law works to address wrong or harm done to an individual and provides relief for their damages. The relief provided is typically in the form of financial damages. 

The awarded compensation is used by the wronged (injured party) to cover expenses like medical costs and property repair bills. Non-economic damages like mental anguish, pain, and suffering can also be awarded under tort law.

In simple terms, the goal of tort law is to provide full compensation for any harm you may suffer due to a wrong committed by someone else.

Components of Florida’s Tort Law

While the Florida Legislature recently reformed some components of the state’s tort law, the basic premise remains the same. However, some of the changes can affect your personal injury case so it’s a good idea to stay informed.

How has Florida’s tort law changed? Some reforms touch on the statute of limitations, while others focus on evidence and comparative negligence rule.

Changes to the Statute of Limitations

Before the reform, you had four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. Now this time has been cut in half. The statute of limitations is two years and there are very few exceptions. A notable exception applies to minors. If you’re under the age of eighteen, the statute of limitations doesn’t start until you’re a legal adult.

While shortening the statute of limitations is designed to help keep personal injury cases moving quickly through the courts. Opponents of the change worry the opposite will happen. With more individuals rushing to file their personal injury cases, they worry the courts will experience a backup. 

Shortening the statute of limitations can also force individuals to file a lawsuit before finishing their medical treatment. This can leave them with outstanding medical costs after their cases are resolved.

Restrictions on Allowed Evidence

The type of evidence you can present to a jury in a personal injury case has gone through some changes. For example, you can’t enter into evidence the full amount of your medical expenses. Instead, you’re only allowed to present the bills for the amount your insurance has or is going to cover.

This means the jury may not have the entire picture of your medical costs. This can affect your compensation amount and leave you with outstanding medical expenses.

Reformed Comparative Negligence Rule

Florida is a comparative negligence state. Not sure what comparative negligence is or how it can affect your personal injury case? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Comparative negligence means both parties involved in an accident can be at fault.

Florida’s reformed comparative negligence rule now has a 50-50 threshold. If you’re found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident you can’t file a claim for damages. If you’re found to be 50 percent or less responsible for the accident, your financial award is reduced by the same amount. 

Since determining fault in accidents like slip and falls and car collisions is often complex, comparative negligence can affect your personal injury case.

No Upfront Attorney Fees

Before the 2023 tort law reform insurance companies were responsible for covering the attorney fees for the successful party. This means if you receive a favorable judgment in your personal injury lawsuit the defendant’s insurance provider is responsible for paying your lawyer’s costs.

Now, personal injury attorneys must agree to work for their clients on a contingency basis. They receive a percentage of your monetary award if the judge or jury rules in your favor. While some legal experts worry this change may prevent some individuals from hiring an attorney, the reform only applies to first-party cases.

Talk To an Attorney About Your Personal Injury Case

The recent modifications in tort law can indeed be perplexing, highlighting the importance of partnering with an experienced personal injury attorney. These legal professionals have a deep understanding of tort law changes and are adept at navigating this evolving landscape. 

Working with an attorney well-versed in the latest legal reforms ensures that someone knowledgeable is advocating for your interests, striving to secure the compensation you rightfully deserve. Their expertise helps demystify the complexities introduced by the new laws and also strategically positions your case, maximizing your chances of achieving a fair and favorable outcome.