Negligent security is a distinctive type of personal injury/premises liability claim in Florida, where a person is injured by another person or persons on the property of another. Frequently, property conditions such as poor lighting and/or inadequate barriers, faulty doors, lack of locks, lack of security cameras and/or absence of security guards, make it easier for the criminal to commit violent acts on others. It is critical to quickly hire a lawyer to handle your Florida Negligent Security Lawsuit.
Negligent security cases typically involve hotels, motels, parking lots, apartment complexes, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, shopping centers and parks. Below are just a few types of negligent security cases:
- shooting death in the parking lot of nightclub.
- Robbery in the parking lot of a bank.
- Kidnapping at a daycare.
- Head injuries sustained as a patron at a crowded bar.
- Assault and battery (which is the most common negligent security claim) in the parking lot of a diner.
- A patron drugged at a bar.
Occupiers and owners of premises owe duties to those on the premises. In Florida, the elements of negligence are:
- A legal duty owed by defendants to plaintiff,
- Breach of that duty by a defendant.
- An injury to the plaintiff legally caused by the breach of the defendant, and last
- Damages as a result of the injury.
Overall, an owner or occupier of a property in Florida, such as a motel, owes a duty analogous to that in any other premises liability case. Namely, the property owner must exercise reasonable care to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
Generally, a property owner does not have a duty to protect those invited onto the property from criminal acts of other persons, whom the premises owner has no control over, unless the criminal act is foreseeable or anticipatable.
In Florida, a premises owner or occupier also has a duty to give timely notice of hidden or concealed perils which are known, or should be known, to the premises owner or occupier and not known to guests of the premises. This may include the duty to warn guests of criminal activity.
Foreseeability is a critical issue in a negligent security claim relating to criminal acts of third parties. Although a landlord or business owner has a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect its patrons, safeguarding is only compulsory against those risks which are reasonably foreseeable. Florida Courts will define foreseeability chiefly based on whether there were previous, like crimes in the same location that the owner, or occupier, knew or should have known of. For instance, if there were 3 prior sexual assaults in a bar’s parking lot in the three years before the injuries from a sexual assault in the same parking lot in a particular case, it is expected that the last sexual assault would be considered by a jury as foreseeable.
Injured plaintiffs in Florida must establish how the facts and circumstances of a negligent security case give rise to actual or constructive knowledge of danger to guests from third party criminal assaults.
To win in a Florida negligent security action, an injured plaintiff is required to demonstrate that he or she is within the zone of risks that are reasonably foreseeable by the premises owner or occupier. It is sufficient to prove that the owner had actual, or constructive knowledge, that there is a likelihood of disorderly or criminal conduct of others, which may endanger the safety of patrons.
Proving Foreseeability in Court
A Florida personal injury attorney establishes foreseeability through entering evidence of prior crimes in the area of the premises, which may include the neighborhood, not just the actual location of the premises. Law enforcement reports showing crimes occurring in the area are indeed pertinent and relevant to a negligent security premises liability case.
The Florida 4th District Court of Appeals held that evidence as to the nature and likelihood of any crime occurring has a direct bearing on whether the preventive measures taken by the property owner were reasonable in light of all the other relevant facts and circumstances in the case.
Premises owners and occupiers have a duty to warn guests of the risks of criminal attacks on or near their premises.
Every day we read about, and watch news stories of, crimes. Bar owners, hotel operators and other business owners must regularly review reports of criminal activity in their area and take suitable steps to protect guests from being the victims of crimes on their property. Not every property will have to take the same precautions. However, every business should consider looking into the following precautions to protect their guests:
- sturdy locks,
- appropriate barriers,
- ample lighting,
- monitored video cameras,
- warning signs,
- security guards.
There is no question that lack of, or inadequate, security may lead to serious injuries and deaths. If you, or a loved one, have been injured by another due to lack of security precautions, you should contact a Florida lawyer right away so your lawyer may investigate and visit the scene right away. Negligent security is a distinctive type of premises liability claim in Florida, it is important that your lawyer knows the law and the nuances of negligent security law.
Van Riper and Nies personal injury attorney, Tim Nies, is an Army Ranger Veteran and a former insurance company premises liability defense attorney. Attorney Chris Van Riper, is a former prosecutor. Together our trial attorneys and paralegals maximize verdicts and settlements by outworking insurance company lawyers hired to defend negligent business owners. Call our lawyers for a fee consultation at any of our South Florida offices including Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach and Stuart, Florida.