A fight at a local nightclub breaks out, and you are caught unaware in the middle of it, breaking your arm in the ensuing chaos. Who is responsible to pay for the damages? You might file a negligent security lawsuit if you can prove that additional security would have kept you from injury.
In Florida, business and commercial property owners have a responsibility to protect anyone who comes onto their premises from personal dangers. They need to fulfill their duty by providing proper lighting, keeping the premises safe and possibly employing security guards. If they neglect or intentionally disregard these duties, they can be held responsible for any resulting losses or injuries, which could lead to a claim against the business.
Negligent security lawsuits arise after attacks, assaults, rapes or other types of physical violence caused by a lack of appropriate security. The victim usually suffers emotional and/or physical injuries. A negligent security case is separate from a criminal case; even if the attacker is unknown or if criminal charges are never filed, the property owner might be held liable for failure to provide preventative safety measures.
In the past 50 to 70 years, the courts determined that people had a right to expect “protection from foreseeable crime.” Since the visitor has no control over the public property, the property owner or manager must fulfill that duty, instead. However, specifics regarding definitions of negligent security and the extent of coverage vary, depending on the jurisdiction.
Differences Between Premises Liability and Negligent Security Claims
Both premises liability and negligent security claims hinge on the idea that owners and managers must provide a safe environment for visitors. However, the courts view the relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff more strictly in negligent security cases. The defendant, or anyone with some type of control of the property or of related security matters, owes a duty to any visitor. In premises liability cases, the defendant must keep the property safe for everyone. However, in negligent security claims, the defendant has no obligation to provide security to a trespasser.
Providing Proof in a Negligent Security Claim
Counsel needs to thoroughly investigate the basis for a negligent security claim to prepare for trial and bolster the strength of the case in court. One of the key elements in the case includes the foreseeable harm to the victim. You need to demonstrate the carelessness of the defendant in failing to foresee potential danger and protect you from that danger.
Key Considerations in a Negligent Security Lawsuit
Negligence means the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in losses or injuries. In the event of an injury, the courts review the following progressively narrowing questions to determine where liability falls:
- Was the property owner responsible for ensuring the safety of the property?
- If so, did the property owner fail to fulfill his or her duty?
- Did this failure result in harm to the plaintiff?
- Was the plaintiff actually damaged by the loss or injuries?
The Liability of the Security Company
In addition to the property owner, the security company might be held liable. The courts consider the following elements when ruling on responsibility:
- Proper training – Did the company properly train the security guards, including the use of any weapons required while on the job?
- Foreseeability – Did the company fail to assess the risk of crime or plan accordingly? For example, if crime rates in the area show an increased danger between midnight and 6 a.m., but if the company reduces staff during that time, it could be liable.
- Reasonableness of actions – Did the guards act in a reasonable manner according to standards in the industry? Were they limited by the owner’s failure to provide weapons or other necessary equipment?
- The written contract – What did the contract between the property owner and the security company cover? Did the security company perform the job according to the contract? Or did limitations on the part of the property owner prevent the security company from acting?
- Proper licensing – Was the security company and each guard properly insured and licensed according to state regulations?
Frequently Asked Questions About Negligent Security
If you are counting the number of cases filed for each negligent security category, they fall roughly into these categories:
• Assault and Battery, 42% of cases filed
• Sexual Assault and Rape, 26% of cases filed
• Wrongful Death, 15% of cases filed
• Robbery, 9% of cases filed
• False imprisonment, 4% of cases filed
• home invasion, carjacking, arson, remaining 4% of cases filed
There are several things you should do if you are injured or in an altercation on someone else’s property, and suspect negligent security could be a factor. Here’s a partial list:
• Report the incident to the property owner or manager.
• Seek medical attention.
• Collect evidence, like pictures of the scene, and contact info of potential witnesses.
• Don’t say too much to anyone who doesn’t need to know about your situation. Relay only the facts to insurance and police, and refrain from talking about the incident to friends and family.
• Stay off of social media.
• Hire an experienced attorney.
Don’t delay getting effective help. Call our seasoned Lakeland accident attorneys right now. We will advocate aggressively on your behalf and help you pursue justice and appropriate remedies.