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What is Negligent Security?

Florida property owners have a duty to keep visitors safe.  This duty includes providing sufficient basic security.  If you have been injured on someone else’s property because of inadequate or negligent security, you may be able to recover for your injuries.

Elements of negligent security

A negligent security claim is a form of basic negligence case.  To prove negligence, the injured party (the plaintiff) must prove that the responsible party (the defendant) failed to act with reasonable care and thereby caused harm.  A negligent security claim arises when a third party commits a crime against the plaintiff on the defendant’s property, if the potential for criminal activity was foreseeable.

The elements of a negligent security case are as follows:

  1. The defendant property owner had a legal duty to provide adequate security;
  2. The defendant failed to take reasonable care to provide adequate security; and
  3. The plaintiff suffered injury or damage as a result of the defendant’s failure.

The legal obligation to provide security can extend to:

  • Commercial business owners;
  • Property managers;
  • Landlords;
  • Security personnel; and
  • Homeowners.

Whether adequate security existed is a question of fact to be decided in each case.  Appropriate security might include security guards, lighting, and security hardware such as locks, alarms, cameras and fences.

Florida convenience stores

Convenience stores are a frequent location for crimes, particularly late at night.  In Florida, state law specifies the security measures that convenience store owners must take. These measures include:

  • Security cameras;
  • A drop safe or cash management device to limit access to cash;
  • Lighted parking lots;
  • A silent alarm to law enforcement or a private security system;
  • A conspicuous notice stating that the cash register contains less than $50;
  • Windows that allow for an unobstructed view of the cash register; and
  • A cash management policy that restricts the amount of cash on hand after 11:00 p.m.

The law creates a presumption against negligence for a convenience store owner who employs the statutory security measures in the event a customer or visitor is injured during a crime on the property.

Negligent security examples

In many Florida cases, plaintiffs injured by the criminal acts of third parties have been able to recover against property owners and those responsible for providing security.  Plaintiffs won multi-million dollar jury verdicts and settlements in the following instances:

  • A plaintiff who was shot at a children’s entertainment and fun park in Dania Beach won a jury verdict against the property owner. The plaintiff argued that defendant should have had better security because the property was in a high-crime area where many attacks had taken place.
  • A pharmacist was shot and killed at Shands Jackson Medical Center, where he worked. His estate sued Wackenhut Corporation, which was responsible for security at the Center, arguing that Wackenhut knew of prior incidents and should have taken better care to prevent the shooting.  The jury found both Wackenhut and Shands negligent.
  • An apartment resident who was injured jumping from a window to escape a fleeing felon won a jury award against the property owner.
  • A bar patron was shot outside the establishment by an individual who had been ejected. He sued the nightclub owner and the owner of the shopping mall where the bar was located. Both businesses settled, even though the attack took place outside and off-duty sheriff’s officers provided security.

Consult an Orlando civil litigation lawyer

If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced Orlando civil litigation lawyers of The Baez Law Firm for a consultation today.

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