Current Status of Tort Reform

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Julie DannaBy Julie Danna

Recently, through conversations with doctors throughout the state of Florida, I came to the realization that information is lacking within the Healthcare industry regarding a ruling made by the 2017 Florida Supreme Court. This ruling overturned a 2003 state law, Governor Jeb Bush’s and the Florida Medical Association’s largest policy victory, which capped medical malpractice non-economic damages. The 2003 Tort Reform had lowered and stabilized Florida’s malpractice insurance premiums for approximately twelve years.

Since the 2017 decision, both claims frequency and severity in malpractice cases have increased.  As a result of the frequency and high verdicts, premium increases will likely continue because the carriers are now operating at a loss.  Additionally, there is another Bill, House Bill 6011, that is looming on the horizon that also raises concern.  If passed, HB 6011 could potentially further increase Florida’s malpractice insurance rates, already among the highest in the nation.

House Bill 6011 authorizes parents to seek damages for mental pain and suffering when their adult children die because of alleged medical malpractice.  As currently written, the law would fully compensate the families of injured patients.  If passed into law, it will increase the wrongful death tort liability allowing parents of adult children, without a surviving spouse or child, to recover the non-economic damages.  More information regarding this bill can be found at:

House Bill 6011:  https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/6011/BillText/Filed/PDF

In this evolving legal environment it is even more important for Doctors to make well-informed decisions when selecting an insurance carrier for the best protection of your career and assets.  Lowest premiums may be more costly in the long run.  Remember that if a carrier becomes insolvent or pulls out of the state, and you have an open claim, they will either settle quickly or you will not have coverage at all. A set-back like that could ultimately hurt your ability to obtain hospital, Medicare, or healthcare plan credentials and or worse, prevent the purchase of your practice should you decide to sell.

For more information, contact Julie Danna at [email protected], or call 850-530-3924.