Many property owners invest in security to keep visitors, tenants and patrons safe. The nature and strength of that security – and whether it’s adequate and within the realm of what is reasonable for that location - is dependent on a host of factors, mainly coming down to whether a criminal attack is foreseeable in its absence.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale inadequate security attorneys know these premises liability cases can be challenging because there is a general reluctance to hold one party accountable for a third party’s negligence/ criminal actions. However, property owners do often owe a duty of care to those lawfully on site to maintain the site in reasonably safe condition. That includes anticipating criminal attacks that are reasonably foreseeable, and protecting against them.
What this means is if you or a loved one have been the victim of a violent crime in South Florida, you may want to consider whether inadequate security was a factor and if a premises liability claim is worth pursuing. An experienced injury attorney can help you sift through the facts of your case to determine whether you have a viable claim for negligence.
Recognize that this civil claim would run separate but likely concurrent to any criminal charges that may be pursued within the criminal justice system.Common Inadequate Security Claims
Victims of violent crimes may cooperate with prosecutors who seek penalties against the perpetrators of those crimes. Such penalties may include jail, prison or community service. In some cases, it might even involve payment of restitution to the victim. However, that’s not standard and it’s also not the main purpose of the criminal justice system. There is also no extensive consideration of the victim’s long-term costs relating to the attack.
This is where the civil justice system comes in. While it’s true a victim may pursue civil litigation directly against the attacker, the inadequate security lawyers at our Fort Lauderdale firm know this is often fruitless, either because the attacker is not known or because he/ she has no assets worth pursuing. There is no insurance policy you can find that will cover damages for an intentional criminal attack – unless the claim is not for a crime, but rather for negligence.
This is where inadequate security claims come in. The property owner is more likely to have insurance and other assets. Additionally, the claim of inadequate security is not that the property owner committed a crime against you or even knew it was going to happen. Rather, the claim is that the property owner owed a duty of care to protect you from foreseeable crimes and failed to do so.
Victims of rape, robbery, gun violence, assault or battery may consider filing such claims.
Some examples of inadequate security claims include:
- Weak or broken locks;
- Lighting that was insufficient;
- Management policies that were inadequate/ poor;
- Absent/ poorly-trained security guards;
- Failing to restrict access to property;
- No alarms;
- No security cameras;
- Not running background checks on workers, contractors or tenants.
Defendants in such claims could include:
- Grocery Stores;
- Retail Stores;
- ATM/ Banks;
- Office Buildings;
- Condos/ Apartment Buildings/ Gated Communities.
In each of these cases, the main concept that our Fort Lauderdale inadequate security lawyers will need to prove is that the attack was foreseeable.Foreseeability in Inadequate Security Claims
The legal principle of foreseeability depends on whether the property owner/ possessor knew or should have known a crime was likely to occur on site. No one is expecting property owners to read minds, but there are some logical inferences regarding the likelihood of third-party criminal acts.
The Florida Supreme Court laid forth some guidelines in the 1983 case of Stevens v. Jefferson. In that case, plaintiff’s husband was shot and killed at a bar that had numerous previous fights and shootings. Plaintiff alleged bar owner failed to train or equip employees to maintain order and that no security personnel had been employed when the owner knew or should have known patrons were at risk of violent attacks. The court, citing previous decisions, noted that a tavern owner’s actual or constructive knowledge – based on past experience – that there is a likelihood of disorderly conduct by third persons in general which may endanger patrons’ safety is sufficient to establish foreseeability.
Florida courts will generally take into account:
- Evidence of the same or similar crimes at the site or in that area;
- How recent those crimes were;
- How similar those crimes were to the one alleged;
- Geographic proximity of those acts.
Appellate courts have disagreed with how much weight to give each element, and the state supreme court hasn’t settled all these issues. Thus, an inadequate security attorney in the Fort Lauderdale area will want to gather evidence to support as many of these elements as possible.
Our premises liability attorneys are committed to fighting to help victims of violent assaults obtain the compensation they need to turn the page on this painful chapter.
Contact the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.