Crashworthiness bill ready for Gov.'s signature

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Over objections from Democrats who said the bill will remove incentives for car makers to make their vehicles safe during accidents, the House approved SB 142 in an 80-35 party-line vote, sending it to the Gov. Rick Scott? desk for final approval, reports the News Service of Florida. The bill reverses a 2001 Florida Supreme Court decision that permitted juries to not consider the cause of the accident when determining fault for enhanced injuries, such as a faulty gas tank that exploded upon impact. Though obscure to most Floridians, the bill was lobbied for heavily by car makers, especially Ford Motor Co. But trial lawyers opposed the bill, saying that it allows juries to hear information about the cause of the accident, such as a drunk driver, that is irrelevant to the enhanced injuries caused by a defect. Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach, blasted the bill as a gift to car manufacturers. ?e are doing this because a powerful group from outside the state, automobile manufacturers, have been pushing this issue heavily for years.?Republicans painted it as a job-driver and said it permits juries to make the final call on whether to consider the fault of the driver, or the cause of the accident, when determining damages. ?e ought to trust juries in the state of Florida,?said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. Scott has campaigned on promises to support tort reform efforts and specifically said in his campaign agenda the he supports changes to the crashworthiness case law established ten years ago.

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