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People's Law Guide

 

Injured by a Criminal? It May be Negligent Security.

Russell M Thompson, Esq.
Website

01/23/11

If you have been injured by the acts of a criminal or as the result of a crime occurring on commercial property you may have a Negligent Security claim against the property owner.

In a Negligent Security case, the injured party is seeking to hold the owner of a commercial property liable when a violent crime has occurred on the owner's premises; such as rape, assault or murder. Landowners and business owners are required to take reasonable steps to make the property safe. Under Florida law landowners and business owners have a duty to provide adequate security when there is a history of similar criminal activity on the property.

A landlord or occupier of commercial property violates this duty by:

  1. Failure to perform criminal background checks on employees, particularly those who might have a direct impact on the security of the property, its tenants, or customers.
  2. Failure to properly screen new tenants.
  3. Failure to warn tenants about security problems or criminal activities on or near the property.
  4. Failure to establish or follow security policies or procedures.
  5. Failure to seek advice from law enforcement or independent consultants.
  6. Failure to provide or enhance patrols by security guards or other personnel.
  7. Failure to continually review safety precautions such as lighting, fencing, entrances and exits and barrier systems, identification systems, close circuit TV's and other monitoring and alarm devices.
  8. Engaging in advertising that overstates security measures.

In Florida, landlords and business owners have been found liable for injuries resulting from criminal activity when they had notice a crime might occur (foreseeable).

In negligent security cases, it is only necessary that the landowner or business owner be able to foresee that some injury will likely result in some manner as a result of his negligence (failure to take adequate safety measures). Allegations that prior criminal acts had occurred in the area are relevant to determining foreseeability. Police records of reported crimes in the geographical area are admissible evidence on this issue. Crimes against both persons and property may establish foreseeability. Property crimes very often are stepping stones to crimes against persons; someone burglarizing a car who is surprised in the middle of the act by the car's owner may assault the owner.

The safety measures required will vary according to the situation. That is why if you have been injured as the result of the negligence of a business owner or land owner (or as the result of a crime or criminal), you should consult an attorney quickly to devise a strategy to hold the proper parties accountable.

Russell M Thompson, Esq. is an attorney who has been practicing since 1985. Located in Sunrise, his office handles Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death. He can be reached at (954) 316-8988, e-mail: rthompson@rmtlawfirm.com or his website at www.ForTheInjuredOnly.com

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