Florida is considering sweeping changes to its litigation process, with Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican-led legislature proposing a bill that would make it harder to sue insurance companies.
At a news conference in the Capitol's fourth floor rotunda, insurance representatives and business leaders gathered to support the bill. Still, one everyday Floridian, Gary Miracle, who relies on a medical malpractice settlement to support his family, felt invisible. He watched as the lobbyists and lawmakers extolled the bill's virtues without acknowledging the concerns of those who opposed it.
The proposed changes to the law include suing journalists for libel with ease and requiring bloggers who write about government officials to register with the state and report any income generated by their posts. The move aims to reduce frivolous lawsuits and protect businesses and Floridians, but critics argue that it will only benefit insurers and harm everyday people. This inconsistency in the law is causing concern among said critics, who accuse DeSantis of trying to silence his critics.
This legislation is designed to discourage insurance litigation by ensuring these trials are less lucrative for trial attorneys. This also includes making lawsuits harder to win against various industries, including insurance companies. It also inhibits carriers from paying fee awards in litigations that concern rejected or low-balled claims.
The bill would also limit consumers' ability to sue insurers for failing to manage policyholder claims in good faith by unethically underpaying, denying, or stalling cases. Instead, insurers would be granted a grace period to offer settlements to policyholders. The burden thereby falls on policyholders who would be required to act in good faith on their own by providing the information needed to review claims. If policyholders are unable to comply, a judge could reduce their recovery.
Critics argue that the proposed changes will make it harder for ordinary people to seek justice while benefiting insurers and businesses. They claim that the bill is a stab at “tort” reform, but in reality it only further exploits a legal system that already favors corporations and the wealthy.