Top Florida businesses fight to cut lawsuit payouts

Planning a trip to Disney World is a source of great excitement for many families. But for a few, the fun goes very wrong. Some, groped on the premises by unscrupulous character actors, would forever connect the images of their favorite cartoon characters with the stain of sexual abuse. Others, like a disabled man who was stranded on a ride for a half hour, experienced terror during what should have been a fun and safe vacation. While some risk is part of life, unnecessary premises injuries are the cause of many lawsuits. And a growing wave of businesses and legislators, led by Disney and Publix supermarkets, are fighting back.

These tort reform lobbyists claim that lawsuit awards are often grossly inflated, due to the complex nature of medical billing. They hope to put a cap on the amount awarded on medical expenses in premises liability and other related lawsuits against Florida businesses, who paid $37 million last year in personal injury settlements and related legal expenses. The proposal hopes to whittle $1 million from that total.

Opponents of the proposal note a pattern: This is not the first effort Disney has made in recent months to cut costs. This past spring, Disney joined Olive Garden’s parent company in fighting guaranteed paid sick days to their part-time workers. Many question the motives and ethics of this new proposal. Some feel this attempt at cost-cutting is a an unfair displacement of responsibility onto the shoulders of paying customers.

If you have suffered an injury on the premises of any business, you or a loved one may have suffered physical or emotional injuries. And while many of your expenses, such as medical and legal costs, are tangible — many are not. After an injury, it is common to downplay the extent of one’s damages in an attempt to seem reasonable, or to appease the business with whom they may previously had had a positive relationship. Many injuries or costs do not even surface until later. While lawsuit settlements may appear high, many legitimate factors play into the final settlement award. Although the responsible party may offer to settle privately, a lawyer is your best advocate in assuring you receive appropriate compensation.

Huffington Post, “Disney World, Publix Push To Pay Less When Injured Customers Sue” Harry Bradford, Jul. 13, 2013