February 7, 2024Share
Is Florida Facing a Massive Shift in its Legal Landscape? An Overview of HB 569
When October arrives, it may bring a substantial upheaval in the law. The General Liability Division at Kelley Kronenberg is keeping a close eye on House Bill 569 (HB 569), which is in committee and can reshape sovereign immunity limits and claim deadlines. Let’s explore the key provisions of HB 569 and the implications for the state and its agencies, and possibly, you.
Abolishing Home Venue Privilege
A central focus of HB 569 is the abolition of the common-law doctrine of home venue privilege, as outlined in FL Stat. 47.011 (1). This means that civil actions brought against the state will no longer be bound by this privilege, signaling a shift in the legal dynamics surrounding such claims. If this Bill passes as-is, we expect significant litigation surrounding where the legal proceedings should take place.
Increased Statutory Limits on Liability
One of the most noteworthy changes proposed by HB 569 is the substantial increase in statutory limits on liability for tort claims against the state and its agencies. Presently capped at $200,000.00 per person and $300,000.00 per occurrence, these limits could double if the Bill passes, reaching $400,000.00 per person and $600,000.00 per occurrence. Moreover, the Bill removes the requirement for legislative approval for judgments exceeding these limits, granting the state or agency control over payment, provided they have adequate insurance coverage. This could have substantial financial implications for municipalities.
Flexibility in Settlements
Florida Statute Section 768.28 (5) enables subdivisions of the state to settle claims or judgments exceeding the waiver without further legislative action. Importantly, insurance carriers are barred from including provisions linking benefit payment to enacting a claim bill. This Bill mandates a yearly review of limits, ensuring adjustments are aligned with changes in the Consumer Price Index.
Shortened Notice Periods and Time Limitations
House Bill 569 proposes reducing the notice requirement period from 3 years to 18 months for bringing claims against governmental entities. The 2-year time limit for wrongful death claims is abolished, replaced by an 18-month deadline. Minors under 794.011 are granted a 13-year deadline that initiates upon reaching the majority. The Bill also shortens the governmental agency’s review period for pre-suit claims from 6 months to 4 months. Failure to resolve or determine a claim within this timeframe deems it final, allowing claimants to proceed with a lawsuit.
Adjustments to Attorney Fees and Statute of Limitations
The proposed amendments include reducing statutory attorney fees from 25% to 15% of any judgment or settlement involving a governmental agency. Additionally, the statute of limitations for negligence aligns with HB 837, establishing a 2-year Statute of Limitations on negligence claims.
If HB 569 receives approval, state agencies must prepare for a paradigm shift in the defense of their general liability claims. The proposed changes bring challenges and opportunities, necessitating a proactive approach to navigating Florida’s evolving legal landscape. Stay informed to adapt swiftly to these potential modifications.
Your Partner in General Liability Defense
While contemplating the potential impact of House Bill 569 on Florida’s legal landscape, your specific claims may raise questions. For personalized insights, please reach out to me to discuss how HB 569 might affect your claims and chart a strategic path forward. Contact me at (904) 549-7700 to schedule a consultation.