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Is Florida a “Judicial Hellhole”?

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Florida has been called a “judicial hellhole” and a recent report from Florida Watchdog argues that Florida’s “flawed” tort laws cost the state nearly $12 billion annually in lost productivity. Florida Watchdog is a product of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity which publishes investigative reports that seek to shine a light on abuses in government. The non-profit has a strong interest in free enterprise and limiting the role of government.

The article, which was published on 23rd of October, advocates for tort reform in the State of Florida. The basic premise is that we need to protect our local economy from frivolous injury lawsuits that rob communities of precision resources and cost them jobs. The question then becomes: Are they right?

The Data

According to the Institute for Legal Reform, Florida is ranked 46th out of 50 for “lawsuit climate.” If you’re wondering how “lawsuit climates” are ranked according to the Institute for Legal Reform, they put out an annual report ranking each of the 50 states. South Dakota is ranked first in the nation while Louisiana is in last place at number 50. California is ranked 47th while New York is ranked 29th. Texas is ranked in the middle at 39th.

What Makes South Dakota So Great?

South Dakota has some of the strictest laws governing liability and negligence. Most states operate on a system of comparative or contributory fault. Very liberal states like California operate on a system of pure comparative fault. This means that even if the defendant is only 1% responsible for an injury, they must pay 1% of the plaintiff’s real damages. Other states operate on a 50% rule. If the plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for their injuries then they are barred from suing for damages. South Dakota operates on a very different rule. In South Dakota, a plaintiff may only bring a lawsuit against a defendant if their contributory negligence was “very slight.” This, in fact, bars the vast majority of lawsuits from going forward. It bears noting, however, that some states bar a plaintiff from recovering damages if the plaintiff is deemed to be even 1% to blame for an accident. These states include:

  • Alabama,
  • District of Columbia,
  • Maryland,
  • North Carolina,
  • And Virginia.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, 12 states operate on a pure comparative fault rule, meaning that a plaintiff can collect damages even if they are 99% at fault. This includes Florida, New York, and California.

The states ranked at the bottom of the Institute of Legal Reform’s list included:

  • Louisiana (50) – pure comparative fault,
  • Missouri (49) – pure comparative fault,
  • Illinois (48) – 51% bar to litigation,
  • California (47) – pure comparative fault,
  • And Florida (46) – pure comparative fault.

Of the states, ranked at the top of the list, the majority of those operated on contributory fault rule that barred plaintiffs from recovery at either 49% or 50% negligence.

Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney

Personal injury attorneys help injured people recover damages for their injuries and hold negligent businesses accountable for their misdeeds. If you’ve been injured, you have a right to collect. Reach out to the Miami office of Alan Goldfarb P.A. for assistance with your case.

Resources:

instituteforlegalreform.com/uploads/pdfs/Harris-2017-Executive-Summary-FINAL.pdf

insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/03/13/483042.htm

watchdog.org/florida/flawed-tort-laws-cost-state-b-in-lost-productivity-jobs/article_79afe0c4-d855-11e8-90e9-a72ff959a430.html

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