Motorcyclists Fight New Lawsuit Limits in Florida
Motorcyclists in Florida led the fight against a bill that significantly reduces their ability to recover compensation after an accident. Ultimately, they proved unsuccessful in stopping the changes, but their opposition laid the groundwork for future fights in other states. The attorneys at Sumner Law Group, LLC are closely monitoring this ongoing campaign, dubbed “Bikers Over Billionaires,” and how it could affect motorcyclists in Missouri if lawmakers introduce something similar here.
What Does the New Florida Law Say?
Once you hear about the bill, you will understand why Florida bikers led the attack on these lawsuit limits. Backed by Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican legislative leaders, House Bill 837 and its counterpart Senate Bill 236 – which DeSantis signed into law on March 24 – severely limit whether victims can seek compensation after an accident.
Previously, Florida, like Missouri, followed a pure comparative negligence model, allowing accident victims to recover compensation even when they were primarily responsible for the accident. In those situations, the court reduced the victim’s compensation in proportion to their share of the fault. For example, if a motorcyclist suffered $100,000 in losses in an accident where the court found they were 60 percent at fault, the victim could recover up to $40,000 in compensation – that is, 40 percent of the total losses. This approach allowed motorcyclists to secure compensation for the portion of an accident that was not their fault and made it harder for insurers to avoid liability entirely.
The new legislation, on the other hand, bars victims from seeking compensation if the court finds them more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. It also eliminates the requirement that insurance companies pay attorneys’ fees for victims who succeed in winning compensation and significantly limits victims’ ability to file claims against insurance companies that fail to handle and settle claims in good faith. Victims now must also file their lawsuits within two years rather than the four years allowed under the previous law.
Taking together all the changes made by the legislation, many consider it a boon to the already-wealthy insurance companies. That’s why Florida motorcyclists stood up, spoke out, and asked the governor and lawmakers to put bikers over billionaires. While their efforts proved unsuccessful in blocking the overhaul, their spirited opposition could help bikers in other states fight similar legislation in the future.
Why Motorcyclists Are Leading the Attack on Lawsuit Limits
Motorcyclists already face significant dangers on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they are 28 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in an accident and four times more likely to suffer an injury. The last thing they need is barriers to seeking much-needed compensation after an accident.
Injured motorcyclists across the country face bias from insurers, judges, and juries who assume all motorcycle riders are dangerous risk-takers who are inherently to blame for their own injuries. It is not unusual for insurers to accuse motorcyclists of causing accidents for which they aren’t to blame in order to save themselves money. By joining the growing list of states that bar compensation for victims who are more than 50 percent at fault, Florida has made it easier for insurers to fight liability and given them a way to take money out of the pockets of injured motorcyclists.
Our Missouri Injury Lawyers Help People Hurt in Motorcycle Crashes
The Missouri injury lawyers at Sumner Law Group, LLC, always fight for the rights and interests of injured motorcycle riders, never big corporations. If another driver hit and hurt you in a Missouri motorcycle crash, contact Sumner Law Group, LLC, today to speak with one of our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers in a free consultation session.
Brent A. Sumner is the Managing Partner at Sumner Law Group, LLC. He focuses his practice exclusively on cases that involve serious personal injuries. Over the years, he has successfully represented thousands of individuals and families, recovering millions of dollars in compensation for injured accident victims.