On March 24, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law HB837, also known as the “Civil Remedies” act, as part of a tort reform aimed at limiting the legal exposure of multi-family residential property owners and managers from acts of violence that occur on their properties. This action was taken in response to a series of lawsuits against property owners and managers where large sums were awarded for negligence in preventing or acting to prevent violence.
What Changes With HB837?
The new law includes several changes that limit property owners’ and managers’ exposure to negligence. For instance, it changes Florida’s standard from “pure” comparative negligence to “modified” comparative negligence, except in cases of medical negligence. Other ways of limiting exposure to defendants include reducing the statute of limitations from four years to two years, limiting the admissibility of evidence plaintiffs can introduce to establish past and future medical expenses, and requiring disclosure of the letter of protection under which a plaintiff treats. It also introduces a higher standard for insured individuals to bring a claim against the defendant and their insurer for “bad faith” in a negligence lawsuit.
While the law limits negligence exposures for defendants, it also mandates requirements for specific security measures and employee training at multi-family residential properties that, if implemented, establish a presumption against liability in connection with criminal acts committed by third parties on the property. These requirements will take effect on January 1, 2025.
Examples of the security requirements include:
- Security camera systems
- Nighttime lighting
- Deadbolt locks and peepholes on residence doors
- Locking devices on windows
- Locked gates
The details of the security training requirements for employees are pending, but all new employees will need to receive training within 60 days of hire, with existing staff requiring retraining every three years.
Want to Learn More?
At SISCO, we specialize in property security assessments and training. If you’d like to learn more about HB837, contact a trusted advisor today.