On Friday, March 24, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law House Bill (HB) 837, which protects property owners from paying excessive damages in frivolous lawsuits. The bill provides many advantages, and it is important for property owners to have a strong understanding of how the new law will affect them and what they need to do to prepare for the resulting changes ahead.
What is HB 837?
HB 837 “modifies the bad faith framework, eliminates one-way attorney’s fees and fee multipliers, and ensures that Floridians can’t be held liable for damages if the person suing is more at fault,” according to a news release from the office of Gov. DeSantis.
The bill reduces the statute of limitations for general negligence cases from four years to two years and provides uniform standards for juries in calculating medical damages. Additionally, one of the most noteworthy parts of the bill is that any party to a negligence action that is found to be more than 50% liable for their own harm is barred from making a recovery for damages.
How Property Owners Can Prepare
HB 837 protects property owners from liability if an individual is injured while on their premises. According to The National Law Review, it is important for property owners to be able to demonstrate that they have satisfied three requirements prior to an incident that gives rise to a negligence action. The requirements are:
- A list of physical property safety measures to be taken on the property
- A crime prevention analysis
- Crime prevention training for all employees
The Florida Justice Reform Institute outlines the physical property safety measures that must be implemented on the property, which include:
- The placement and specified usage of security cameras
- Lighted parking lots, walkways, laundry rooms, common areas, and porches meeting specified visibility standards
- A locking device on windows, sliding doors, and other common area doors
- Locked gates with key or fob access for community pool fences
- A peep hole or other door viewer on each dwelling unit door\
- By January 1, 2025, the owner or operator has a crime prevention through environmental design assessment that is no more than 5 years old completed for the property, and the property remains in substantial compliance with the assessment
- By January 1, 2025, the owner or operator provides proper crime deterrence and safety training to employees within 60 days of their hire date
Property owners should meet with their property managers to discuss HB 837 and start implementing safety measures.
Our team at Insurance Office of America is here to provide clients with risk management and insurance solutions to help them properly respond to new and existing market conditions, including HB 837, to better protect their business. Please contact your agent for more information.