On March 23, 2023, new legislation, House Bill 837, was signed into law in Florida for sweeping tort reform intended to bring balance and transparency to litigation. The law includes provisions related to all tort cases, including reducing the statute of limitations from 4 years to 2 years, moving from “pure” comparative negligence to “modified” comparative negligence and modifying how bad faith claims can be pursued.
This new law will also have an impact specifically on negligent security litigation. Pursuant to the new law, there will be a presumption against liability for the owners of multi-family housing complexes, if certain conditions are met. These conditions include security cameras at points of entry/exit, a lighted parking lot, walkways, laundry rooms, common areas and porches, a one-inch deadbolt in each dwelling unit door, a locking device on each window, a peephole in each unit door and locked gates with key or fob access into the pool area.
Furthermore, the new law alters the verdict form and now allows apportionment of fault to the individual who committed a crime against the plaintiff. Lastly, a property owner will be granted immunity if the negligent act results in the death or injury to a person attempting to commit a crime on the property, regardless of whether the crime is a felony or misdemeanor.
While the purpose of this law is tort reform, it also looks to incentivize property owners to implement more stringent security measures. We will work with our clients on implementing these security measures, when possible, to place them in the best position if a negligent security case should arise. We will ensure that the selected defense counsel is fully aware and familiar with the new law to provide the best defense to our clients. Lastly, we will confirm the carriers are aware of this new law so we can all work together to provide the best claim handling and advocacy for our clients.
Partner, Managing Claim Advocacy & Consulting Leader
Claim Advocate – Real Estate Specialist