Can a trespasser file a negligent security claim in Florida?

by Mar 4, 2021Negligent Security, Premises Liability

Can a trespasser file a negligent security claim in Florida?

by Mar 4, 2021Negligent Security, Premises Liability

Can a trespasser file a negligent security claim in Florida
Can a trespasser file a negligent security claim in Florida

Negligent Security Claim in Florida: Everything You Need To Know

Cases that involve negligent security are on the rise in Florida, and as such, we feel it’s important that people have a clear picture of what the law says. In a nutshell, negligent security cases fall under premises liability. This means that they fall in a category where a property owner has a legal obligation to ensure that individuals who get on the property are safe on their premises. In this article, we’ll explore negligent security law in the state of Florida to get a better picture of what to expect, either as a property owner or as an individual.

Types of properties that typically have inadequate security

To show negligent security, we first must consider the location, type of property, whether the crime was foreseeable, among other factors. Normally, these claims are filed against the owners of commercial properties, including:

  • Parking lots
  • Shopping malls
  • Nightclubs
  • Apartment complexes
  • Convenience stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Sports stadiums
  • Amusement parks
  • Office buildings
  • Subway, train, and other public transportation stations
  • Hotels and motels
  • Banks
  • Concert venues
  • Other places of business

Traditionally, when there are adequate security measures in place, the chances of a crime being committed are low. That is why when the owner of the property fails to put up enough security, they can be held liable should anything happen to result in damages and injuries perpetrated by a third party’s criminal acts. Here are some examples of negligent/inadequate security:

  • Damaged or entirely missing lighting
  • Broken locks on doors, windows gates, etc.
  • Not having or mainlining security cameras and alarms.
  • Missing or improperly placed exits in case of an emergency.
  • Lack of security personnel
  • Not responding to emergency calls or security alerts
  • Failing to follow security guidelines and procedures
  • Not warning visitors of known dangers and risks.

What Makes Successful Negligent Security Claim in Florida?

Property owners aren’t automatically liable when injuries or deaths take place on their properties. To successfully sue someone for negligent security, one needs to prove that the owner had contributed to the result. This means that the property owner’s lack of action or action led to someone dying or being injured.

Here, however, there is a catch. The crime in question has got to be “foreseeable.” The property owner either knew that something bad could happen or had already happened as a result of their action or inaction. The owner can also be liable if it’s proven that the person who committed the said crime was acting under the premises owner’s instructions.

That said, having a good negligent security case means showing enough proof of a wrongful death or serious injuries attained while on the premises. For the owner to be liable, the harm should be measurable.

As previously highlighted, showing that a crime or accident was foreseeable will often involve showing a history of prior crimes similar to nature happening at the same premises. This way, the owner cannot claim that it was a one-off incident. To prove that the security in the building was lax, there needs to be a testament from a security expert.

The expert will go to the property in question and determine whether the security in question is lax or enough. In the case that security is found to be lax, the liability falls to the owner. The last element of a good negligent security case is the injured party being without blame for the crime that just occurred. If it can be proved that the plaintiff did something to bring the crime or disaster on themselves, the owner cannot be liable.

What if you weren’t invited to the property?

The law in Florida highlights different care standards for different people. For instance, the landowner’s duty of care is different to invitees, guests, and trespassers. Landowners typically have a low duty of care towards trespassers. That duty of care goes even lower when you are under the influence of drugs or intoxicated while trespassing. In the case of malls, stores, restaurants, or other businesses, those on the premises are known as “invitees.” These invitees can turn to trespassers if they are asked to leave the business and decline.

How much time does one have to file a negligent security claim in Florida?

The Florida Statutes Section 95.11 says that premises liability cases that involve injuries must be filed within four years from when the injury occurred. This means that after four years, the statute of limitations is in effect. However, if a loved one passed on due to lax security measures on an individual’s property, you only have two years to file a wrongful death suit. In such cases, we advise clients to file their suits as early as possible.

This helps when it comes to looking for the necessary evidence. What’s more, the events that led to the injury or death are usually much fresher and reliable. Their reliability and accuracy fade over time. Therefore, it’s much harder to win a four-year-old negligent security claim in Florida
than one just a few months old.

Exceptions to the Prior Crime Requirement for Security Guards, Alarm Companies, And Landlords

As previously stated, negligence cases require that the plaintiff shows prior similar crimes happening in the area, but there are usually some exceptions. For instance, if the property has in its employ security guards whose negligence and carelessness contributed to the crime, then it’s not mandatory to prove similar cases in the area before pursuing a case against the security company as the liability now falls to them.

The same applies to alarm companies and homeowners’ or condominium associations which hired a negligent security company for protection. The last exception to this a Florida negligent security lawyer may leverage involves instances where a victim’s landlord advertised good security, promised security, and then provided negligent security by not maintaining the locks on the doors, windows, or gates and didn’t keep the common areas safe. In such a case, we don’t need to prove the crime was foreseeable as the landlord has breached his contract.

Types of Damages That Can Be Recovered

If someone is injured as a result of criminal activity on another’s property due to inadequate security, they can find a Florida negligent security lawyer to recover the following damages:

Compensatory damages: these are damages awarded to a person when they have incurred losses and damages as a result of the crime that took place. These damages include both economic and non-economic damages. They can include but aren’t limited to lost wages, medical bills, loss of enjoyment of life, and even pain and suffering.

Punitive damages: punitive damages are designed to punish the negligent party for their irresponsibility. According to the Florida Statutes Section 768.73, these punitive damages, however, have a cap. They cannot exceed three times the compensatory or exceed $500,000.

A combination of several factors often determines the value of these negligent security cases. The first and often the biggest is the permanence of the injury sustained and how serious it is. Injuries that result in more permanent injuries typically receive greater damages than those whose injuries weren’t as serious.

Another aspect that impacts how much in damages one will be awarded involves the severity of the crime in question and the number of similar crimes that occurred in the same location. When it can be proved that such crimes have occurred several times, the owner cannot claim not to know about the issue. More damages are also given to a credible plaintiff than one whose story is being doubted. Sympathetic plaintiffs often get awarded higher damages than their less sympathetic counterparts.

Contact the Bodden & Bennett Law Group today for a free case evaluation.

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