WHAT IS NEGLIGENT SECURITY?
Violent crime is an unfortunate reality in today’s society. Most of those crimes, however, are crimes of opportunity; that is, a crime that takes place because of an environment that lets criminals feel they can commit a crime without being seen or caught, often known as negligent security. Effective security protects people by deterring criminals (making them believe they will be seen or caught) so that they go looking for another place to commit their crimes. Negligent or inadequate security does the opposite. It provides an environment which suggests to criminals that they can commit a crime without fear of being seen or caught.
When someone is shot, stabbed, beaten or raped, most people rightly think the criminal justice system will be involved, at least to some degree. What many people don’t know is that the civil justice system may also have a role in delivering justice in the wake of a violent crime. The kind of justice available in the civil justice system is generally financial compensation or money damages. If you or someone you are close to has been the victim of violent crime and suffered physical harm as a result, you may be entitled to substantial compensation.
The experienced negligent security lawyers at Hannon Legal Group have recovered millions of dollars in just compensation for victims of violent crime and their families including several multimillion-dollar awards.
HOW DO WE PROVE NEGLIGENT SECURITY?
Business / land owners are required by the laws in Florida to take reasonable measures to protect their patrons and guests from criminal attack. Figuring out what measures are “reasonable” depends on what kind of criminal behavior is foreseeable at that location. We can prove the foreseeability of criminal attack and demonstrate what security measures should have been implemented by using geographic crime grids obtained from local law enforcement which provide a lot of information about criminal activity in a particular area. We also use security industry expert witnesses to analyze crime data and testify about the frequency and nature of violent crime in the geographic area in question and discuss the security options available. Our lawyers usually also obtain the testimony of local law enforcement officers who were involved in the investigation of the criminal attack.
When adequate security measures aren’t implemented or commercial premises are not properly maintained and someone is injured or killed as a result, the owner of the property or business where the attack occurred may be held liable for substantial damages in a negligent security case. A negligent security case is a type of premises liability case, similar in some ways to a slip & fall. What these cases have in common is that both revolve around the land or business owners’ responsibility to protect against a dangerous condition they knew or should have known existed. In a slip & fall case, that dangerous condition may be a slippery substance on the floor.
In a negligent security case, the criminal attacker is the slippery substance on the floor – so to speak. He is the dangerous condition on the property which the owner needs to guard against. Again, land and business owners aren’t required to protect against all criminal actions. That responsibility is only placed on them when they should have anticipated the possibility of a violent crime from the criminal history on or in the area around their property.
HIGH RISK PREMISES OR “CRIME MAGNETS”
There are certain types of premises and businesses that seem to attract criminal activity. Law enforcement officers refer to them as “crime magnets.” Some of the business establishments where violent crime seems to occur frequently include premises that have ATM cash machines, Gas Stations, Adult Entertainment (“strip”) Clubs, Night Clubs, College / University Campuses, Daycare Facilities, Parking Garages / Lots, Private Schools, Apartment Complexes and even Cyber Premises like internet chat rooms and social media platforms.
Negligent ATM Security
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and gas stations are widely recognized as “crime magnets." Criminals look to victimize innocent people withdrawing cash from ATMs, especially if those cash machines are located in dark parking lots or in areas where they are not easily seen by passing cars or pedestrians (sometimes referred to as “natural surveillance”). Gas stations provide criminals with easy access to victims who are usually standing outside their unlocked cars with their wallet or purse out as they pay for fuel. These environments require more aggressive security measures than others in order to make them safe.
There are industry standards for ATM security and gas station security, just as there are for other commercial establishments. In Florida, for example, statutes require that proper lighting must be installed and operable during nighttime hours for the ATM and “any defined parking area, access area, and the exterior of an enclosed automated teller machine installation.”
Types of Negligent Security Cases
Negligent security cases have been successfully prosecuted by attorneys against owners and operators of businesses including:
- Gas stations
- Shopping centers
- ATM owners
- Schools and universities
- Parking garages and lots
- Condominium and apartment complexes
- Home owners' associations
- Event promoters
- Night clubs
- Strip clubs
- Private security companies
- Day care facilities
- Nursing homes
- Office buildings
- Cyber premises such as internet chat rooms, websites and search engines.
When business and landowners outsource their responsibility to provide safe premises to private security companies, the security company can also be held liable for harm that occurs when they are negligent in providing security services. This can happen in many ways, but one common example is when a security company provides a security guard who was not properly screened or trained and, as a result, he is unable to perform his job correctly.
NEGLIGENT SECURITY LAWSUITS MAKE COMMUNITIES SAFER
The laws that provide for compensation when someone is injured or killed as a result of negligent security have two purposes: to compensate the victim who suffered harm and to make communities safer. Just as good security can serve as a deterrent to criminals, holding business and landowners financially accountable for harm suffered as a result of inadequate security on their property serves as a deterrent to negligent or irresponsible business owners. While protecting customers from violent crime may not sufficiently motivate a business owner to spend more money on security, negligent security lawsuits often do motivate them to implement better security measures. Even though insurance is almost always available to pay for the damages, when business owners recognize the financial exposure they may have when someone is seriously injured or killed on their premises, they often see the expense of implementing additional security measures as relatively cheap.
CALL TODAY FOR A FREE EVALUATION OF YOUR CASE
The experienced negligent security lawyers at Hannon Legal Group have successfully represented many Florida families who have lost a loved one to violent crime. Our firm has been nationally and locally recognized as one of the “Best Law Firms in America” by U.S. News & World Report, as a “Top Law Firm” in the South Florida Legal Guide and has earned an AV Preeminent rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory. If you or someone you know has been the victim of violent crime on commercial premises, contact one of our trial lawyers for a free consultation to see if you are entitled to compensation for negligent security or call us today at (305) 359-3109.