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Prejudgment Interest: Florida is out-of-sync with other states

by Mark Nonni

Prejudgment interest is interest that accrues from the date of a breach of contract or wrongful act until a judgment is rendered in a lawsuit. The purpose of prejudgment interest is to compensate the innocent party for the loss of the ability to use his or her money due to the wrongful acts of a defendant. More than 30 states allow prejudgment interest in all litigation, including personal injury and wrongful death. Along with seven other states, Florida does not allow prejudgment interest in personal injury and wrongful death cases, but does so in contract and in other tort cases.

The accrual of prejudgment interest should begin at the time of the injury or damage to the plaintiff and should continue until time that the judgment is entered by the Court.  Under current Florida law, without prejudgment interest, wrongdoers and their insurance companies have an incentive to delay and drag-out litigation, even when the defendant knows he or she will eventually lose. Were Florida to join the states that allow prejudgment interest in all cases, there would be no incentive to delay just for the sake of delay. This would benefit the courts as well as persons injured due to the wrongdoing of others.

Legislation promoting the award of prejudgment interest in all cases, including personal injury and wrongful death, would bring Florida in line with more than 30 other states including Texas, Ohio, California, Colorado, and Georgia.  In the 2017 Legislative Session, the Florida Senate Rules Committee began its consideration of legislation to allow for prejudgment interest on non-economic damages in tort cases.  Unfortunately, however, the bill was withdrawn from consideration.

Maybe next year.

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