The study's findings shed light on the prolonged damage that tort costs and bad actors have had on Florida's free market. According to the report, Florida has consistently ranked in the bottom 5 of 50 states for lawsuit climate, signaling a need for more tort reform during the 2020 Legislative Session.
The report also calculated the effects tort costs have on Florida's Economy. Those include:
- $10 billion in annual direct costs
- $15 billion in annual output (gross product)
- 160,000+ jobs when dynamic effects are considered
- $811.1 million in annual State revenues and $679.4 million in annual local government revenues.
Altogether, excess torts result in a "tort tax" of $719.01 per person.
“This study underscores the urgent need for lawsuit reform in Florida,” said Herrle.“ Small businesses are especially vulnerable to legal attacks. The cost of defending against a single baseless lawsuit can be enough to put a small business out of business—even if the case ultimately is thrown out of court. The small business community is eager to work with Governor DeSantis and legislative leaders to curb lawsuit lending, pass accuracy-in-damages reform, and stop lawsuits brought in ‘bad faith’ with the intent to cancel policy limits.”
While the study underscores the need for more pro-tort reform legislation, legislators leading the charge believe they can capitalize over the 2019 success, and turn this ship around.
"There is creativeness in the legal arena to find a way to access policies that are not traditional. Historically, we've done it through insurance direct claims process," Broxson told The Florida Report. "Now we're finding more a more claims going directly through an attorney. Those elevate costs, those costs have to be shared, and we have to do something to stem that tide."
"People are at a breaking point... this is a 911 call," he continued.
Broxson was one of the key Senators spearheading last session's AOB bill (SB 122). A similar bill (HB 7065) passed in the House, shepherd by Rommel. Both men will again be called on this session to protect businesses and consumers in the state.
"The study tells us that we are in a crisis, and we just don't know it yet.," Rommel said. "If we don't act, we will have a major crisis and our constituents will come to us and ask, 'why didn't you do something?'"
The Naples Republican also took aim at universities for taking money from third parties who look to inflate costs and undo that progress made by both chambers.
"What really irks me is when we have state-run universities that know the problems we went through to get AOB passed, that are willing to entertain taking $40,000,000 to advertise websites like RoofClaim.com," he continued.