AIA Applauds Fla. Asbestos Reform Legislation’s Passage

May 5, 2005

The American Insurance Association has applauded the Florida Legislature’s passage of landmark legislation to help truly sick victims of asbestos exposure receive compensation quickly and fairly. The bill now will go to Gov. Jeb Bush who is expected to sign it.

“We commend Florida legislators and the leadership for their strong support of reform legislation which will make the asbestos and silica claims process more reasonable and defined for all parties,” said Cecil Pearce, AIA vice president, southeast region. “Legislators understood the problem that faces Florida from an asbestos claims process that has been hijacked by trial lawyers, making claims on behalf of those who showed little sign of asbestos or silica exposure. Businesses have been forced into bankruptcy due to this abusive claims process, with little left for those who are truly sick.”

HB 1019 addresses this problem by requiring those suffering from asbestos- or silica-related illnesses to meet a minimum level of objective medical criteria before filing an action. For those who do not yet show signs of impairment, the statute of limitations that had previously required claimants to file suit within four years of learning that they showed physical signs of exposure will be suspended. HB 1019 also requires that those who file asbestos-related claims in Florida courts are Florida residents or are able to document that their exposure occurred in Florida.

Similar asbestos medical criteria legislation was enacted earlier this year in Georgia. In 2004 Ohio passed the first asbestos medical criteria measure. Upon the signature of the governor,
HB 1019 will take effect July 1, 2005.

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