Negligent Security in Florida
In 2013, the Florida Supreme Court was presented with a particularly gruesome case in which negligent security led to two deaths. The two victims in this case were shot by unknown assailants inside their apartment, a unit that was in a complex described as a “gated community.”
How did this horrible crime occur? The property owners failed to fix a broken front gate, prevent dangerous individuals from entering the premises, and warn residents about 20 prior crimes that had occurred at this complex. This kind of gross negligence is horrifying, and the property owners need to be held responsible for their failure to adequately protect their buildings.
Property owners have certain duties to the people who visit or live at their properties. Whether it’s a public location or a private residence, owners must make sure that no one on that property is at risk for a preventable accident. That can include things like making sure that there’s no faulty electrical wiring that could start a fire or a large, hard-to-see hole in the backyard of a rental property, but it also includes making sure that the property is safe from security breaches. Properties like this are often at risk for security breaches when owners fail to pay attention to certain dangers or skimp on security measures because of the cost.
Negligent security can lead to loss of property, serious injuries, and in some cases, death. It’s essential that property owners who allowed a security breach are held accountable so that this type of negligence does not continue and endanger others at this location.
Where Can Negligent Security Incidences Take Place?
Negligent security cases can take place in a wide range of locations. Often they are in private residences, such as:
- Apartment complexes
- Rented homes
- On-campus college residences, such as dorms
They can also occur in more public places, such as:
- Shopping malls
- Grocery stores
- Parking garages
- Other commercial establishments
- At automatic teller machines
Workplaces that lack proper security can be particularly dangerous. There are an estimated 1.7 million violent incidences committed against people at work each year. This workplace violence costs businesses between $36 and $40 million in property damage, medical expenses, and an inability for injured employees to continue working. In these cases, business owners may be liable for harm caused to employees due to insufficient security.
What Causes Security Breaches?
Building owners can’t just install a lock on the door of their property and call it good. And in the case of rental units, they also can’t just tell tenants that it’s their duty to make sure their home is safe. Owners are responsible for doing everything in their power to make their property secure, but they often fail to do this. Some common issues that lead to security breaches include:
- Inadequate lighting
- Failure to install security alarms or cameras
- Broken locks
- A break in fencing or other barriers
- Failure of security officers to fulfill their job
- Overgrown shrubbery
- Concealing a known hazard
- Seclusion of a certain area
- Failing to inspect the property for security issues
- Failing to warn residents or property visitors about potential security risks
Property owners can be held responsible for security breaches in any case where there was a foreseeable chance of injury to people on the property. In Florida’s legal system, this can mean that the landowner knows about a potential condition on their premise that is likely to cause harm, such as a lock that has been broken for months. They may also be held responsible for a lack of security when there have been other similar crimes in the area prior to the incident on their own property.
What Happens to the Victims of Security Breaches?
Sometimes security negligence can involve a break-in during which valuable property is stolen from residents. This is a particularly big issue surrounding rental units in areas known for a high level of property crime, as well as rentals on or near college campuses. In these cases, the victims of theft may be able to receive monetary compensation for the items that were stolen.
In other tragic cases, individuals may be seriously injured or killed as a result of security negligence. Those who are injured may suffer life-long physical and emotional effects. Harm to those victims can lead to exorbitant expenses, including:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Loss of wages
- Rehabilitation expenses
- The emotional cost of a reduced quality of life
- Long-term pain and suffering
What Can Property Owners Do To Make Their Premises Safer?
Property owners should regularly inspect security measures on their property such as gates, locks, and cameras to make sure that they are working—and if residents or visitors have complaints about a lack of security, these concerns need to be addressed immediately.
Property owners should also install lighting in dark or secluded areas, such as walkways between apartment buildings or in parking garages. They also need to take measures to make sure that would-be criminals cannot easily gain access to their property. Installing fencing, deadbolts, security cameras, and security guards can all help limit the odds that anyone will damage the property or commit a violent crime.
If you live in a rented home or are in a commercial building or workplace where you notice a potential security threat, you should immediately report this to the building owner. If they don’t act to make the premises safer and you or a loved one suffers a serious injury or loss of property as a result, you may have a negligent security case on your hands.
Negligent security cases and premises liability cases in general can be a particularly confusing area of the law because the injured party must be able to prove that it was, in fact, the negligence of the property owner that caused their injury rather than some unforeseeable or uncontrollable factor. In order to give yourself the best possible chance of recovering damages in these cases, you need to work with a premises liability law firm that has a track record of success.
Slootsky, Perez & Braxton have ample experience with negligent security cases and work on a contingency basis, meaning that you pay nothing until after we’ve recovered damages. Residents of Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, schedule a free consultation to discuss your case today. You can call us at 954-764-7377 in Fort Lauderdale, 561-209-2100 in Boca Raton & West Palm Beach, or Toll-Free at 877-566-8759. You can also contact us by filling out this short online form.