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Tort reform legislation pending in the Florida House and Senate was being rapidly pushed by the Insurance Lobby and Big Business. The original bill filed (HB 837) on February 15, 2023, was quickly and quietly introduced with the hope it could reach the Governor’s desk without scrutiny. The bill as originally drafted “could directly harm minorities, senior citizens, veterans, and the majority of hard-working Floridians. Thankfully, today the Florida sun is shining down on this bill and amendments have been made,” stated Attorney Dan Newlin of Dan Newlin Injury Attorneys.
Attorney Dan Newlin was thankful that legislators took time to listen and meet with him and other concerned citizens. Newlin stated, “having the opportunity to meet and speak with so many legislators was an amazing experience. Seeing that they cared to listen to all sides, and that we had a voice for many powerless accident victims was a great honor.”
Additionally, under current Florida law there are provisions that require an insurance company to act fairly to an injured person and pay benefits when they reasonably know they should be paid. When an insurance carrier fails to act fairly and timely pay benefits the carrier can be sued for violating this law. This area of the law is known as insurance “bad faith” and under the original bill, insurance bad faith might have been completely removed.
Attorney Dan Newlin believed that removing all current bad faith provisions under Florida law could allow insurance companies to offer much less than a claimant is entitled because the insurance company would have no repercussions for acting poorly and paying much less than an injury victim legally deserved and was entitled to.
The Insurance Lobby broadly proclaims that bad faith lawsuits are out of control and that the current law is misused, which is causing rates to skyrocket and carriers to leave Florida. Newlin says this is largely propaganda, at least as it concerns the personal auto insurance market in Florida, which is very competitive and healthy with carriers making record profits. Accident claims and cases brought for personal injury and wrongful death by his law firm and many others rarely result in bad faith lawsuits. In fact, in 21 years of practicing law, Attorney Newlin and his firm, who have represented hundreds of thousands injured accident victims, have only filed one bad faith lawsuit.
Newlin believes there needs to be balanced bad faith provisions that operate to make the insurance companies play fairly, especially for Florida seniors, minorities, veterans. Floridians are required to pay for auto insurance so they also deserve to have some form of legal protection.
Newlin stated he was concerned that the original bill might entirely remove bad faith provisions that protect the consumer, and could limit accident victims’ right to choose their own doctors and access to care, and force physicians to accept Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement rates as their only method of payment.
Although Newlin disagreed with some of the proposed changes in this sweeping legislation, after working in consumer injury law for more than 20 years fighting for injured Floridians and consumers, he is encouraged by later amendments that will ensure bad faith provisions are not entirely removed.
Newlin, a conservative Republican originally from Northern Indiana, and strong supporter of the Republican Party, believes that in the end Florida’s legislature will find fair tort reform compromises and choose to do what is best for all Floridians, not big businesses or trial attorneys.
Attorney Dan Newlin also explained that in addition to his many clients, an inspiration for this fight to bring scrutiny to the legislation as originally filed, is his daughter, Alexis Newlin, who recently completed her first year of service in the United States Air Force. “My daughter is an inspiration. I am fighting for her and the next generation. I love Florida and highly respect our Governor and legislature. We will find compromise. There will be no winners in Tallahassee. It’s about going home knowing we did the best for Floridians, that is my hope.”
SOURCE Dan Newlin Injury Attorneys