A new Florida bill will restrict lawsuits against long-term care facilities if passed. Tort reform advocates say the changes are necessary to reduce excessive litigation.
Opponents of the bill believe the legislation could increase unsafe conditions in long-term care facilities.
HB 1029 would prevent senior residents claiming that senior living or other long-term care facilities violated their rights from admitting evidence from expert witnesses testifying on a contingency fee basis. It would also prevent the adult children of residents from receiving non-economic damages from lawsuits. The changes mirror those enacted to reduce medical malpractice litigation.
Arguments for the legislation
Since 2010, jury verdicts that exceed $10 million have risen by 27.5%. Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, comprise a large portion of those settlements. Advocates say that the current long-term care liability law encourages people to file lawsuits and hire experts to testify outside of their scope of practice. They also argue that reducing litigation against long-term care facilities will reduce the cost for residents.
Arguments against the legislation
Opponents of the legislation point out that nursing home violations in the state have risen sharply since 2019 and restricting the ability of residents and their families to recover compensation could worsen this trend. They also believe it is unfair to place restrictions on the ability of adult children to recover noneconomic damages because the majority of plaintiffs in wrongful death cases are adult children.
If the legislation passes, it could save long-term care facilities substantial amounts of money, but there is no guarantee that those savings will result in lower costs for residents.