Florida chamber supports bill to cap pain, suffering damages in lawsuits

By John Severance | Apr 17, 2019

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida House Bill 17 is not yet law, but the state's Chamber of Commerce is rooting for it as it makes its way through the legislature.

“Lawsuit abuse reform is a top priority for the Florida Chamber of Commerce," Edie Ousley, Vice President of Public Affairs of the Florida Chamber of Commerce told the Florida Record. "Right now, Florida’s bottom-five legal climate increases costs on families and job creators.’’ 

If passed, the bill would become law on July 1. Sponsored by Rep. Tom Leek (R-Ormond Beach), the bill made has advanced through the House Judiciary Committee.

"This Florida Chamber-backed bill would require a jury to know the amount generally accepted for a health care service instead of what was charged,’’ Ousley said. "This is a common-sense solution that will lower costs in personal injury cases and provide transparency for the cost of medical care. That’s good for families and job creators."

HB 17 caps a total of $1 million in damages for pain and suffering to people who file a personal injury and wrongful death suit. The bill also says that judges cannot tell juries about the limit.

According to a summary of the bill, Florida has the highest tort liability system costs in the U.S. as a percentage of state gross domestic product, at 3.6 percent.

"In 2016, the total amount paid in costs and compensation within Florida's tort liability system was the equivalent of $4,442 for every household in the state," the summary states. "Over the past few decades, the Legislature has attempted to reduce the costs of the tort liability system. This bill modifies the damages recoverable in certain tort actions by requiring a jury to consider an estimated value of medical services based on an independent database reporting medical costs charged and paid. This ensures the jury does not rely solely on the amount billed by the provider of medical or health care services to determine damages.’’

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