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Florida Negligent Security Laws

October 16, 2023 Legal Team

Negligent security is a legal term that refers to the failure of a property owner or operator to take reasonable steps to protect their visitors from harm. This can include failing to provide adequate security measures, such as lighting, security cameras, and security guards, or failing to properly maintain the property, which can create dangerous conditions.

In Florida, victims of negligent security have the right to sue the property owner or operator for damages. To prevail in a negligent security lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner or operator owed them a duty of care, that the property owner or operator breached that duty of care, and that the breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Recent Changes to Florida Negligent Security Laws

In 2023, the Florida legislature passed House Bill 837 (HB 837), which made a number of changes to the state’s tort laws, including negligent security laws. One of the most significant changes made by HB 837 is the creation of a presumption against liability for the owners or operators of multifamily residential properties that substantially implement certain security measures on the property where the criminal actor is not an employee or the owner or operator.

This means that if a victim of a crime sues the owner or operator of a multifamily residential property for negligent security, the property owner or operator will not be automatically liable for the victim’s injuries. Instead, the property owner or operator will be presumed not to be liable unless the victim can prove that the property owner or operator failed to substantially implement the required security measures.

The required security measures under HB 837 include:

  • Security cameras with retrievable footage at points of entry and exit
  • Adequate lighting in common areas
  • Deadbolt locks on all exterior doors
  • Security gates or fences around the property

HB 837 also made a number of other changes to Florida negligent security laws, including:

  • Reducing the statute of limitations for negligent security lawsuits from four years to two years
  • Requiring plaintiffs to prove that they were actually injured by the property owner or operator’s breach of duty, rather than simply alleging that they were at risk of injury
  • Limiting the amount of damages that plaintiffs can recover for certain types of losses, such as pain and suffering

Authoritative Sources

The following are authoritative sources on Florida negligent security laws:

  • Florida Statutes § 768.0725: This statute sets forth the elements of a negligent security claim in Florida.
  • Florida Supreme Court case law: The Florida Supreme Court has issued a number of decisions on negligent security law, including the following cases:
    • Doe v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., 981 So. 2d 1236 (Fla. 2008): This case established the presumption against liability for multifamily residential properties under certain circumstances.
    • Security Services of North America, Inc. v. K Mart Corporation, 653 So. 2d 1020 (Fla. 1995): This case established the standard for proving that a property owner or operator breached their duty of care in a negligent security case.
  • Florida Jury Instructions: The Florida Jury Instructions provide guidance to juries on how to decide negligent security cases.

Why It’s Important to Hire an Attorney Right Away

If you have been injured in a crime on the property of another person or business, it is important to hire an experienced negligent security attorney right away. An attorney can help you investigate the facts of your case, identify the responsible parties, and determine whether you have a viable negligent security claim.

If you do have a viable claim, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit and negotiate a settlement or try your case before a jury. An attorney can also help you understand the changes made to Florida negligent security laws under HB 837 and how those changes may affect your case.

Here are some of the specific benefits of hiring a negligent security attorney:

  • Investigating your case: An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of your case to gather evidence and identify all of the responsible parties. This may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports, and obtaining security camera footage.
  • Filing a lawsuit: If you decide to file a lawsuit, an attorney can draft the necessary pleadings and file them with the court. An attorney can also help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.
  • Negotiating a settlement: In many cases, negligent security lawsuits are resolved through settlement negotiations. An experienced attorney can negotiate on your behalf to get you the best possible outcome.
  • Trying your case in court: If your case goes to trial, an attorney can represent you in court and present your case to the jury. An experienced attorney knows how to persuade juries to award fair compensation to victims of negligent security.

Negligent Security claims are extremely tough. They require a lot of evidence, experts, and witness testimony. It is important to hire an experienced attorney to help prosecute the claim.