Florida lawsuit reform heading to the senate

Floridians could soon see new rules about how to sue one another.

The senate is expected to vote soon on a bill that would revamp the way Floridians sue for damages, both against businesses and insurance companies.

The bill is intended to go after attorneys who prey on unsuspecting clients and to make it harder to file frivolous claims.

John McKnight seldom files more than one case per week.

"(I have filed) over 100 in the last week or so," he said during an interview Tuesday.

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That's because once the governor signs the new tort - or civil lawsuit - reform package, the new rules will apply to any case not yet filed, even if incidents happened years ago.

It makes it harder to recoup attorney fees from insurance companies that deny claims, gives new exceptions to attorney client privilege, and limits the time to file suit from four years to two.

"It's going to be a mess, and it's unprecedented," said McKnight. "So, you know, who knows what the you know, the full impacts are going to be."

The bill's backers say this is a direct assault on rising insurance rates.

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The governor unveiled the bill a few months ago by saying it would hit billboard attorneys who take exorbitant fees from unsuspecting clients.

Anyone found to be more than half at fault for an incident can't collect damages.

And it also protects small businesses from paying the entirety of a claim.

"You're going to see a lot more insurance companies either settle a claim or tender the limit in full," said State Sen. Travis Hutson. "(to) meet the contractual obligation. And if they do so, it would stop litigation."

Backers say there is a failsafe that would allow them to face attorneys fees if they're issuing blanket denials.

A vote in the senate on the bill the governor is expected to sign should happen this week.