Inadequate / Negligent Security Lawyer
Survivors of violent crimes may suffer lifelong physical impacts and emotional scarring. While criminal prosecution and conviction can bring a measure of justice and closure, the goal isn’t specifically to compensate traumatized victims for their very real and continuing losses. If the attack could have been prevented with better security measures, there may be grounds to pursue a civil injury claim for negligent security.
In a single recent year, more than 81,000 violent crimes were reported in Florida. These included murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults. Thankfully, this is a significant decrease compared to decades past, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. But that doesn’t alter the fact that businesses and property owners retain a legal responsibility to customers, clients, and other lawful guests to implement basic security measures to prevent foreseeable attacks. As our Fort Myers injury lawyers can explain, failure to do so can be the basis of a civil claim alleging negligent security, also sometimes referred to as inadequate security.What Exactly Is Negligent Security?
Negligent security is a certain type of Florida premises liability claim wherein a person is injured by a third party on another’s property. The attacker takes advantage of weak or lacking security measures, such as proper lighting, high fences, functional locks, working security cameras, adequate alarms, or security guards.
It may strike some as strange that a business or landlord could be held legally accountable for a crime committed by someone else. In fact, it is true that Florida courts are hesitant to impose liability on anyone for the actions of a third party. However, exceptions exist when a duty to protect another arises as a result of the defendant’s actual or constructive control of:
- The instrumentality of harm. The best example would be vicarious liability of motor vehicle owners for the negligent acts of permissive drivers because cars are considered inherently dangerous instruments.
- The person who committed the tort. The most common example would be holding an employer vicariously liable for the wrongdoing of an employee acting in the course and scope of employment. This is done under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior(Latin for “let the master answer”).
- The premises on which the tort is committed. Inadequate security is a type of premises liability claim that would fall under this category.
Florida inadequate security claims stem from the property owner’s failure to implement reasonable safety measures for the benefit of lawful guests when they had a legal duty to do so. As noted in the Fla. 5th DCA 1999 case of Brown v. Suncharm Ranch, the duty to protect others from injury caused by a dangerous condition on site rests with the party who has the right to control others’ access to the premises.
These claims are civil matters and entirely separate from the criminal case. In fact, it’s not even necessary for an assailant to have been convicted or even caught for an inadequate security claim to be viable. It’s about the fact that customers, tenants, and other guests are placed at greater risk of harm when the property owner fails to provide adequate security.
Florida negligent security cases are most often filed against places that welcome the public. Examples include:
- Retail stores;
- Amusement parks;
- Gas stations and convenience stores;
- Apartment complexes;
- Grocery stores;
- Outdoor malls;
- Parks and playgrounds;
- Sports complexes;
- Colleges and universities;
- Government buildings.
Where members of the public are welcomed onsite for the financial benefit of the owner, the highest duty of care must be paid. That means not only promptly addressing known (or knowable) hazardous conditions on site, but also inspecting for the presence of such conditions routinely. Where there is a foreseeable risk of criminal activity, those who own and/or control the property have a responsibility to take reasonable action to mitigate that risk and/or ensure guests have sufficient warning.
What usually must be proven in a negligent security case is:
- The property owner had a legal responsibility to provide basic security measures, such as adequate lighting or trained security guards.What is considered “adequate” will depend on the type of property and where it’s located. Crimes are generally considered “foreseeable” when there is a history of similar acts at that particular location, that type of location, or in the neighborhood.
- The injury was caused by the lapse in security.In other words, the crime wouldn’t have occurred had there been enough security in place.
- The plaintiff suffered physical injury, monetary losses, loss of property, etc. Although many negligent security plaintiffs successfully sue for emotional anguish (crimes, after all, are traumatic), one must establish physical injury and financial losses in order to recover damages.
Foreseeability is a crucial factor in negligent security cases.
Property owners are not expected to predict the future. However, they do have a duty to recognize foreseeable threats to the safety of their guests. Foreseeability refers to whether past crimes on or near the site made owners aware of safety risks.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the exact same crime or even location to be foreseeable. But Florida courts weighing foreseeability will be closely analyzing:
- The proximity of those incidents to the scene of the attack;
- Whether they could be characterized as serious or violent.
Examples may include robberies, carjackings, sexual assaults or shootings either at the same location or nearby. Such incidents would compel reasonably prudent property owners to beef up security to protect lawful guests.Damages Payable in South Florida Negligent Security Lawsuits
Damages refers to losses for which one can be financially compensated.
If one prevails in a negligent security case, potential damages they may collect may include recovery for:
- Medical bills.
- Lost wages.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional anguish.
- Trauma/ongoing therapy.
- Loss of life enjoyment.
- Personal property damage.
- Loss of consortium (your spouse).
If a person is killed in a criminal attack on someone else’s property due to inadequate security, certain survivors or the estate may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Contact Garvin Injury Law, negligent security attorneys in Fort Myers, Naples, Port Charlotte, Sarasota and Key West today at 239.277.0005, or online for a free case review.