Do you have injuries sustained on the property of a business? Have you been criminally attacked on the property of a business? If you answer yes to either of the above, you may have a negligent security claim.
Both business owners and property owners have a legal obligation to keep their property safe. If you incur injuries due to a property owner not taking proper steps to prevent injury, they may found liable for negligent security. If found liable, you may be able to recover medical expenses and receive compensation for loss of income and pain and suffering.
Negligent security applies to both accidental injuries and intentional acts such as assault and theft. Keep reading to learn what negligent security is and what you must do to prove negligent security following an assault or injury.
What is Negligent Security?
Negligent security is a specialized area of premises liability. A claim of negligent security is usually made against a business owner or landlord.
Claims occur because the property owner did not take proper security actions on their property. A business owner must take measures to prevent reasonably foreseeable injury or criminal acts. They have a duty to provide sufficient security for the protection of their guests and invitees.
If a person suffers injury or attack, and there is a lack of appropriate security, the owner may be liable for negligent security. Crimes that may fall under the tort of negligent security include rape, assault, battery, and robbery.
Determining Fault in Negligent Security
The party at fault in a case of negligent security is the owner of the property. The determining factor is the owner’s failure to have appropriate security systems on their property. Had they taken appropriate measures, it may have prevented or reduced the likelihood of the crime taking place.
The plaintiff/victim in this type of case must prove that the dangerous condition existed long enough for the owner to know about it. The plaintiff needs to prove that the condition was happening on a regular basis. This repeated occurrence establishes a foreseeable danger.
The owner or landlord of a business has a duty to ensure the safety of its employees, customers, and tenants. If they fail to take appropriate action, they may be liable for negligent security. Proper security can include actions such as security lights, locked entries, or security guards.
Failure to provide adequate security includes liability for third-party attacks. A third-party attack includes shootings, stabbings, rape, robbery, or any other form of assault.
Determining a business owner’s liability requires a victim to prove prior knowledge. This means they must show that the business owner knew of similar crimes happening at that location. The legal term for this knowledge is foreseeability.
Foreseeability under tort is that a party’s action or failure to act could foreseeably result in injury or attack. A business owner that was or should have been aware of similar crimes in the area has the ability to see that another similar crime could take place.
When a business owner is aware of the likelihood of crime taking place, they have a duty to take appropriate action to protect the invitees and guests. If they fail to protect their invitees or guests against that crime, they are liable for negligent security.
The attorney must also prove that the business owner did not take appropriate security steps. This can include not updating a security system or having security cameras that do not record.
Establishing a prior incident as a reason for liability can be difficult. Judges often feel such knowledge will sway a jury unfairly.
Reinstatement of Torts
Application of the Reinstatement (Second) of Torts is necessary to prove negligent security. The Reinstatement of Torts covers the causes that relate to the harm a victim suffers. This includes both emotional and physical harm.
The Restatement is a summary of the United States tort principals. The steps in proving negligent security in the Restatement include the specific requirements. The plaintiff must:
1) Prove the landowner or possessor did not exercise reasonable care in finding other similar crimes in the area, or
2) Prove they did not provide an adequate warning to invitees about those crimes
3) Prove that the plaintiff was lawfully on the defendant’s property
4) Prove the defendant breached their duty to offer reasonable security
5) Prove the plaintiff suffered injuries because of a third party’s actions
6) Prove that the injuries were reasonably foreseeable
7) Prove that the plaintiff’s injuries are the direct and proximate cause of the defendant’s breach of duty
8) Prove that the plaintiff’s breach of duty is the cause of the plaintiff incurred damages.
Proving negligent security does not guarantee a total win. The defendant may file a counter-complaint for contributory fault.
The defendant in a negligent security case may claim the plaintiff has a contributory fault. In Florida we use comparative fault but the general premise is the same. The Uniform Comparative Fault Act (UCFA) requires that any contributory fault by the plaintiff lowers the amount of their award. This does not prevent the victim from receiving compensation.
Contributory fault includes acts by the victim that are reckless or negligent. Those acts can be toward the business owner, property, or a third party. This includes the victim’s failure to take steps to avoid the injury, which would mitigate damages.
A claim of contributory negligence requires the “reasonable man under like circumstances” standard of review. This means under similar circumstances, what the average, reasonable man would do?
There are two types of contributory negligence. The first is that the victim voluntarily assumed a known risk. The second is the victim’s failure to pay attention to the danger of their surroundings and take precautions to avoid injury or danger.
The plaintiff in a negligent security claim must show specific details on why the defendant is liable for their pain and suffering. This includes proving that the business owner did not act in a reasonable manner in providing security.
Proving a business did not act in a reasonable manner requires proof that the business owner did not exercise due diligence. This means they failed to learn about similar criminal activity in the area.
They must show that if the victim had been given sufficient warning about the dangers, they could have taken appropriate actions to protect themselves. Because of their failure to act with due diligence, the business owner is liable for damages sustained by the plaintiff.
The Plaintiff must also prove that they were at the business legally and for a reasonable purpose, such as shopping, having services performed, or working.
What is Adequate Security?
The facts of each case will make a difference in what determines adequate security, including:
- Having security officers patrolling during business hours
- Appropriate lighting
- Locking doorways
- Control over duplicate keys being distributed
Florida has laws in place that protect convenience store owners against liability for third-party criminal acts when they take specific security measures pursuant to §812.173 and §812.174. This includes installing security cameras, using a drop safe, and hanging a sign that informs those inside the store that the case register contains under $50.
Inadequate security is often the reason given for a person encountering an assault, injury, rape, or homicide that could have been prevented if adequate security measures had been in place. Inadequate security claims can result in injuries that occur in locations such as:
- Public transportation
- Shopping malls
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living facilities
- In parking lots and parking garages
- At ATM machines
- Hotel facilities
- College facilities
- School grounds
Inadequate lighting and failure to take appropriate security measures are often the reason for a finding of negligent security.
Negligent Security or Premises Liability
Negligent security is a special section of premises liability. Premises liability is the theory that can make a property owner liable for injuries sustained by a person while on their property.
Premises liability is usually for injuries sustained on the property of a homeowner but can also be against a business. Negligent security cases generally arise out of injuries sustained on property owned by a business.
The elements of a premises liability claim and elements for negligent security lawsuit are the same. When filing the complaint, the following elements must be included:
- That the property owner had a duty of care—a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure your safety from danger
- That the property owner breached their duty of care—they knew of a potential danger and did not provide a warning or take safety measures that a reasonable person would take
- That there is a direct link between the property owner’s breach of duty and the injuries sustained by the victim
- That you suffered damages as a result of the owner’s breach of duty—this includes medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of consortium.
When preparing a negligent security claim, you want to make sure you use a negligent security attorney who knows how to prepare a properly formatted complaint that includes all requirements for each element.
When You Have Been Injured
If you suffer an injury on property belonging to a homeowner or business in Florida, the statute of limitations allows up to four years after the injury to file your negligent security lawsuit. We recommend you contact our office as soon after your injury as possible. This provides us with the most time to work on our case prior to filing the lawsuit.
You can contact us online or call (727) 201-2690. We are available by phone 24 hours a day for new clients.