Last week, the Florida House of Representatives approved a bill which will have a significant impact on Florida auto accident cases. The Miami Herald reported that this bill was approved by a large margin of 80-35 and is on its way to Gov. Rick Scott.
Under the bill, SB 142, juries must consider the fault of every contributing party to the accident when apportioning damages for products liability claims against auto makers. According to the Herald, this bill will do away with the D’Amario v. Ford Motor Co. decision in 2001 which held that, “evidence of the primary cause of the cause of a crash, such as driver error or drunkenness, cannot be introduced in product liability cases.”
So what are the pros/cons of this bill? What does this mean for Florida plaintiffs in auto accident cases?
Proponents argue that this pro-business bill will open doors for more auto makers to set up shop in Florida and allow juries to consider all evidence before having auto makers pay up for product liability claims. On the other hand, critics of the bill are concerned that big businesses will not be held accountable for potentially defective products which will effectively pass the buck to Florida tax payers.
Though this will be an additional hurdle for product liability claims against auto makers, victims of auto accidents will still have their day in court and our lawyers will continue to pursue legitimate claims and fight vigorously for our clients’ rights. Our hope is that this bill will further educate, rather than confuse or distract, jurors with all the facts necessary to appropriately apportion liability and damages.