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Florida legislators seek to protect businesses from lawsuits

A slip-and-fall or some other kind of personal injury that takes place on the property of a business can be a nightmare for the business owner -- and the Florida House is hoping to change that.

House Bill 17 (HB17) would impose a strict $1 million cap on noneconomic damages like pain and suffering, emotional trauma, the loss of capacity for enjoyment in life and other losses that aren't easily defined in dollar amounts. The bill is being sponsored by Representative Tom Leek, who is also the chief legal counsel of a Daytona Beach insurance brokerage firm called Foundation Risk Partners.

The bill also has a few other provisions that would be helpful to businesses and their insurance companies. Injury victims would no longer be reimbursed for the medical costs as they were billed. Instead, they would only be reimbursed for what they eventually pay once the insurance company gets done negotiating. When a case goes to trial, the bill would also prevent judges from informing the jury about the limitations imposed by the law.

Naturally, there's some fierce opposition against the measure. Some have questioned Rep. Leek's impartiality and accused him of a conflict of interest, given his other position in the insurance sector. For his part, Rep. Leek has stated that he believes that the bill would benefit not just Florida businesses but also consumers -- by ultimately giving insurance companies the ability to lower their premiums.

The bill generally has the support of the insurance industry in Florida, along with the Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

If your business is in danger because of a frivolous lawsuit or some other issue, don't wait to seek legal guidance. Experienced advice can often help you find ways to deescalate the situation and come to a resolution.

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