Today, Floridians for Lawsuit Reform, a nonprofit aimed at lawsuit reform, launched its website FLTortReform.com to raise awareness of the need for lawsuit reform and demonstrate the impact of frivolous lawsuits on Florida families.
With Florida’s legislative session underway, the organization has identified one of its priorities in its overall mission to create a better, more fair, legal climate: reducing the financial incentives for trial attorneys to take advantage of Florida homeowners.
According to a review of data available through the Florida Department of Financial Services, lawyers in Florida file an estimated 50,000 new lawsuits each year over property insurance disputes. Florida law allows attorneys to receive "fee multipliers" for their work on common property insurance claims. That means an attorney can pocket up to 30 times more in fees than the families they represent in an insurance dispute.
When companies are forced to pay the exorbitant legal fees, rates must increase. Due to frivolous lawsuits and excessive attorney’s fees, homeowners’ property insurance rates could climb 10-fold over the next 10 years. Higher rates contribute to the rising cost of homeownership in Florida.
Sen. Jeff Brandes has introduced SB 914 to reform the legal climate in Florida and reduce the burden of frivolous lawsuits on Florida homeowners.
SB 914 would:
- Change the fee paid to an attorney for a property insurance claim. The maximum fee a court may award will be determined by the "lodestar method." The lodestar method considers the number of hours reasonably spent by an attorney at a reasonable hourly rate.
- Prohibit the court from considering contingency risk or using a contingency risk multiplier, a common tactic used by attorneys to collect higher fees.
- Bring homeowners property insurance rates down by cutting back on excessive attorney fees.
- Put an end to "fee multipliers." The proposed legislation requires that attorney fees for claims involving property insurance must be fair and reasonable.
According to the 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Florida ranks 46 out of 50 and is one of the top five worst states for unfair and unreasonable legal environments.
Additionally, multiple homeowners’ insurance companies in Florida are currently at risk of being downgraded, which would make them financially insolvent. This would force hundreds of thousands of homeowners to look for alternative homeowners’ insurance policies, which are often more expensive or put the state at risk of adding these homeowners to the state-run Citizens Property Insurance, increasing costs for all taxpayers.
ABOUT FLORIDIANS FOR LAWSUIT REFORM
Floridians for Lawsuit Reform is a 501(c)3 organization that was formed by Floridians to pursue lawsuit reform. The goals of the nonprofit are to: 1) raise awareness for the abuse of the system; 2) demonstrate the impact of frivolous lawsuits and over-the-top attorney fees on Floridians’ cost of living; and 3) promote possible solutions that will benefit Florida families.
Amanda Bevis, (202) 680-9262