Florida Property Owners May Be Liable for Inadequate Security

January 11, 2018 | Category: Inadequate Security | Share

In Florida, those who have been intentionally injured by a third-party while on the property of another may not realize that they have the right to sue and obtain compensation. Such compensation may be sought from the property owner who failed to provide adequate security, assuming that certain fundamental elements of the claim have been satisfied.

Benefits of an Inadequate Security Claim

Why bother to bring an inadequate security claim if you could simply sue and recover damages from the attacker at issue? Consider this:

If you have been mugged outside of a retail store, the most obvious claim for damages is against the defendant-mugger — not the owner of the retail store.

Generally speaking, property owners and store owners (leasing the property) are more likely to have substantially more liability insurance coverage and assets than an individual attacker.  If you have suffered significant injuries, the defendant-attacker may not have the insurance coverage or personal assets necessary to pay out your damages in full.  By introducing another liable defendant — here, the property owner or controlling entity — you gain access to a financially solvent defendant who can satisfy your damages and ensure that you are compensated to some degree.

Control and Duty

Inadequate security claims are a subset of premises liability claims.  In the context of premises liability, Florida plaintiffs may only sue and recover from defendants who have demonstrated a certain level of control over the premises at issue.

For example, if you have been attacked inside a private apartment, you cannot necessarily sue the landlord who owns the entire apartment building for failure to provide adequate security, as the landlord does not exercise the requisite level of control in each privately-leased apartment.  You will have to sue the lessee of the apartment.  On the other hand, if you are attacked in one of the common areas that are maintained by the landlord directly, you might be entitled to sue the landlord for inadequate security.

Those who exercise control over a given premises have a duty to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition for visitors.  Failure to do so will expose them to civil liability.  This includes a failure to adequately protect visitors from third-party harms, such as third-party violence and theft.

Foreseeability of Third-Party Harm

As the plaintiff in an inadequate security lawsuit, to successfully recover for your injuries, you’ll have to show that the harmful third-party conduct at hand was reasonably foreseeable and that the defendant property owner (or controlling party) failed to properly respond to this threat of harm, which could have been accomplished through the implementation of adequate security measures, such as hiring a security guard or installing security cameras.

Foreseeability is largely dependent on the circumstances.  If there are examples of similar prior conduct on the premises (or near the premises), then that speaks volumes about the foreseeability of such harm.  For example, if a business owner is aware that there has been a wave of attacks in recent months around their property, then they must take measures to protect their customers.

Florida premises liability law exposes property owners (and possessors) to liability for their failure to provide adequate security in situations where a third-party intentionally causes injury to others.  Premises liability law can involve many complex issues of ownership, possession and control, and there may be disagreements over shared liability and a break in the “causal chain” that stall settlement negotiations.  By working with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who has experience handling inadequate security claims, however, you’ll improve your prospects over the course of litigation.

Contact Randall Spivey today to work with an experienced Fort Myers personal injury lawyer at the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.  We will provide a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights.

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