Under Florida law, people who own or manage property have a legal duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for guests, customers and others who are lawfully on their premises. This duty includes such things as making sure walking surfaces are clear and safe so people do not slip, trip or fall; ensuring that pools, spas and the areas around them are well maintained and safe; and alerting visitors to known dangers, such as heavy equipment, ditches or uneven pavement. This duty also includes preventing visitors to the property from becoming victims of preventable crime.
A Florida property owner or manager’s duty to maintain their property in a safe condition extends to protecting invited visitors from reasonably foreseeable criminal acts such as assaults. In other words, if you are injured by a violent criminal act while lawfully visiting public or private property, you may have the right to recover damages for the injuries you suffered while on the property, if security measures on the premises were negligently inadequate.
In this blog, we will discuss the concept of negligent security and premises liability and examine the instances in which injured victims of criminal acts should consider suing the property owner. We will answer the following questions about these complex legal matters:
- What is considered negligent security in Florida premises liability cases?
- Who can be held liable for negligent security in Florida?
- What compensation can I receive with a negligent security claim?
Hopefully, this information will be helpful. However, for answers to specific questions about a particular case, we recommend consulting an experienced Miami premises liability attorney.
What Is Considered Negligent Security in Florida Premises Liability Claims?
Cases in which victims of violent crimes hold property owners liable for negligent security on their premises are known as negligent security claims. These claims rest upon the fact that the victim was an invited guest (visitor, client/customer, shopper, patron, or residential tenant, etc.) and that the property owner or manager had a duty to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition for guests. That is, the owner/manager is responsible for removing, fixing and/or warning visitors about dangerous conditions, including the threat of criminal activity, about which they are aware of or should have been aware through the exercise of reasonable care.
Negligent security claims arise when a lawful “invitee” is injured by a criminal act, such as an assault, a shooting, stabbing, rape or violent robbery, in a place where the victim would have expected to be safe or to be assured that safeguards were in place to try to keep them safe. Violent crimes can occur anywhere, but most Florida negligent security claims arise due to unsafe conditions at places such as these in high crime areas:
- Convenience stores and gas stations that lack adequate lighting and other standard security measures and devices, as outlined in section 812.73, Florida Statutes.
- Bank ATMs with no security personnel or cameras, inadequate lighting, improper placement in a secluded area or a location with obstructed lines of sight .
- Shopping centers and malls with deficient security due to conditions such as inadequate lighting, overly high landscaping which hides or blocks the outside portions of the property from public view, a failure to have security guards or surveillance cameras, among other deficiencies.
- Hotels, apartment complexes, condominium and housing developments, dormitories and storage facilities without gates, guards, roving security personnel, surveillance cameras or adequate lighting, among other inadequate security measures..
- Movie theaters, sports stadiums, concert venues and night clubs with insufficient surveillance, security guards and other security measure.
- Parking lots, elevators and stairwells in any type of property that are not illuminated or sufficiently secured.
People visiting places such as these can be vulnerable to violent crimes, especially at night. If they are injured, the property owners can be held liable if they failed to provide adequate security measures. In these negligent security cases, the courts consider if there was a foreseeable threat to visitors’ safety, such as a history of violent crime at or near the location that the property owner was aware of or should have been aware of and did not address adequately with appropriate security measures.
Florida courts and juries understand that when property owners and managers act responsibly, many violent crimes can be prevented. However, when they do not meet their legal duty to take precautionary measures to protect visitors to their property from foreseeable criminal activity, they can be held accountable for the devastating, life-changing injuries that all too often result from their indefensible inaction.
Who Can be Held Liable for Negligent Security in Florida?
Property owners have a duty to protect lawful visitors from foreseeable violent crimes by taking specific precautionary steps, such as hiring security guards to patrol a particularly dangerous area; installing security alarms and security cameras; installing secure locks or a keycard entry system; and providing proper training on security issues for relevant staff members. If they fail to take steps to protect visitors and you are injured by a violent crime on their property, you have the right to hold them liable for their failure with a Florida negligent security claim.
Those who can be held liable for negligent security vary with the specific circumstances of each case; however, in general, one or more of the following individuals might be liable:
- Property owners and managers
- Homeowners (HOAs) and condominium associations
- Retail store owners and managers
- Hotel, resort, movie theater, shopping mall and restaurant owners and managers
- School districts and officials and university campus administrators
- Hospital, other healthcare facilities and nursing home administrators
- Management and security companies
Irresponsible property owners will often defend negligent security case by asserting that the involved crime was not foreseeable and that the owner had reasonable security measures in place given the level of foreseeable risk. When these defenses don’t work, the property owners and managers may try to blame the crime victims for being comparatively negligent. Accordingly, it is critical for a crime victim to protect their right to full and just compensation by hiring a highly experienced and capable premises liability/negligent security attorney. An experienced Miami premises liability attorney can ensure your claim has the best possible chance of success. Contact us today for the help you need investigating your case, establishing its viability, determining liability and figuring out the full, fair amount of compensation you may be able to recover.
What Compensation Can I Receive with a Negligent Security Claim?
When you file a negligent security claim against a property owner or other liable party, you can potentially recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are for financial losses, such as medical expenses and lost earnings, while non-economic damages are for overall quality of life losses, such as pain and suffering. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you could be entitled to recover damages for:
- Mental anguish, stress, anxiety and PTSD
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished capacity to enjoy life
- Disability and physical impairment
- Lost income and diminished future earning potential
- Medical expenses, including hospital bills, medication, emergency care, office visits, diagnostic tests and procedures and other related expenses
- Rehabilitative therapy and care expenses
- Other damages recoverable under Florida law
After collecting and examining the evidence to establish that negligent security led to or partially led to your injury, our premises liability attorneys will work diligently to demonstrate the complete extent of your losses, so you receive the full and just compensation you deserve.
The Experienced Legal Help You Need to Succeed with Your Florida Negligent Security Case
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a crime that you believe could and should have been prevented by a more responsible property owner or manager, please contact the experienced Miami premises liability attorneys at Boyers Law Group. We have many years of experience in achieving justice and substantial compensation for our clients who were injured by preventable crime and will put our knowledge, skill and expertise to work for you.
It would be our privilege to speak with you, help you and advocate for you. Keep in mind you will not have to pay anything up front, as we only get paid after we secure a suitable settlement or jury award for you. Please call us at 305-512-7600 or submit the “Tell Us What Happened” form on our website for more information on how we can help with your Miami negligent security claim.