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Sarah Geisrich Opinion: Lawsuit Reform is Justice for All

In the weeks leading up to the legislative session,‭ ‬I was intrigued by some of the debate over the lawsuit reform issue.‭ ‬I really had not paid that much attention to it until Gov. Ron DeSantis rolled out his legislation,‭ ‬and then it was strongly supported by legislative leadership.‭ State Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Pensacola, my state senator, has been a strong advocate for lawsuit reform over the years.

I decided to do more research and was very interested to learn that Floridians were paying some of the nation’s highest insurance premiums.‭ ‬Florida has a lot of great records that we can be proud of,‭ ‬but paying the highest auto,‭ ‬home,‭ ‬and health insurance premiums are not something that should make any of us proud.‭ ‬Having felt the pinch in higher costs of living myself over the past couple of years,‭ ‬I am glad for anything to be done to lower those costs.

But what would higher insurance costs have to do with lawsuits‭?

As I researched,‭ ‬I picked up on a few tidbits that helped me understand the process and how lawsuit reform might relate to higher insurance.‭ ‬In Florida,‭ ‬we had incentives in place that would incline medical financing companies to invest in personal injury lawsuits,‭ ‬knowing that our legal system tends to reward plaintiffs with advantages that encourage companies to settle quickly for large sums or be faced with more exposure.‭ ‬These lawsuit financiers were pretty much getting a guaranteed high percentage return on their money.‭ ‬That all sounds great for the financiers,‭ ‬but the problem is that incentivizing lawsuits as part of a financial investment scheme hits all of the ratepayers for various insurances directly in the wallet.

The way that laws were written before this legislative session,‭ ‬personal injury victims had an incentive to decline their insurance proceeds and assume all liability for recovery and rehab procedures,‭ ‬looking for the legal pot at the end of the rainbow.‭ ‬Some enterprising‭ ‬attorneys‭ ‬would then work with‭ ‬willing providers to inflate the price tag of billed procedures in court,‭ ‬knowing they are likely to win and to be compensated on the basis of those inflated price tags.

For example,‭ ‬a‭ “‬$20,000‭ ‬procedure‭” ‬might‭ ‬normally only cost an estimated‭ ‬$5,000,‭ ‬but‭ ‬with a little inflated cost and with‭ ‬Florida juries often‭ ‬being‭ ‬prevented from knowing the full picture of the damages,‭ ‬a jury may award vastly more money to a plaintiff than what is warranted.‭ ‬The higher damages,‭ ‬based on inflated information, is passed along to every insurance premium payer.‭ ‬So what I have come to understand is that all of Florida’s families are victims of this‭ ‬kind of‭ ‬lawsuit abuse,‭ ‬and our state legislators‭ ‬did the right thing by prioritizing action in this past legislative session.

I want to thank DeSantis for what he did to lead the way and for making Florida lead the nation in something that we can truly be proud of:‭ ‬principled reform for all.

I think we could use that same kind of thinking in every state in America.

Sarah Geisrich is a political activist and community volunteer. A lifelong resident of Florida who is based out of Pensacola, she is part of the Transforming Florida network.

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