When people think about hiring a personal injury attorney, they think about car, motorcycle, and bicycle accidents. Maybe slip and falls, defective products, and medical malpractice. A few might even consider dog bites. But almost no one thinks about negligent security.
What is it? You might have heard the phrase “negligent security” recently in the news regarding sportscaster Erin Andrews. Last month, Andrews was awarded $55 million for a lawsuit against the Marriott hotel in Nashville. She claimed – and the jury agreed – that the hotel was negligent in its security when a stalker was able to book the hotel room next to hers and rig her door’s peephole to take nude video of Andrews and post it on the internet.
Andrews said the video was seen by millions of people, and because of that she experienced severe mental distress including depression, sleeplessness, and crying spells. And if the hotel had proper security measures, the whole incident could most likely have been prevented.
When a case like this surfaces, it makes people wonder how secure they really are on a daily basis. Could they be affected by negligent security?
For that reason, let’s look at some frequently asked questions when it comes to negligent security in Florida.
What is premises liability law?
Negligent security cases fall under premises liability law. According to Florida law, a property owner or manager could be liable if you were injured because of a dangerous condition on the premises. A dangerous condition could be a spill, a hole, a crack, or other similar hazards. But it also includes attacks made by a third party.
So if you are leaving a property and are attacked by someone waiting in the parking lot, the property owner could be liable for your injuries under the premises liability law.
What is considered negligent security?
A property owner or manager is required to do everything in their power to keep property visitors and guests reasonably safe from harm. This applies to conditions within the actual property but also to security. Depending on the type of property and where it’s located, security measures may include adequate lighting surrounding the property, a working security system, properly maintained locks and other security features, proper surveillance, and security guards.
If the property owner neglects to provide sufficient security and you are attacked or otherwise injured, you may be able to file a negligent security claim against them to recover damages and hold the property owners accountable. This way, they will be required to make the necessary changes to prevent further attacks or injuries.
Where do negligent security cases take place?
Negligent security cases can take place in a variety of locations, such as:
- Restaurants and bars
- Gas stations
- Office buildings
Anywhere that has people visiting or residing can be eligible for negligent security.
How do I know if I have a negligent security case?
In order to have a valid negligent security claim, you have to prove the following elements:
- You were involved in an incident that caused you harm. Harm can be to your person or your property. If your car is stolen from a parking lot, that is considered property harm. If you were held at gunpoint, then that is physical harm.
- You were harmed while you were in or on the property.
- The property owner had a legal duty to provide basic security measures for visitors and didn’t fulfill this duty. “Basic security” can mean different things for different kinds of properties. A late-night bar would most likely have different security measures than a coffee shop that closes in the evening. A property in a high crime area might need more security measures than a property in a low crime area.
- You were harmed because the property owner was negligent in their security. If you were robbed in a parking lot but all the proper security measures were in place, that’s not a negligent security case. However, if you were robbed in a parking lot with poor lighting, that might constitute negligent security.
How can I prove a negligent security case?
The first step in proving your negligent security case is to hire an experienced Florida negligent security attorney. A qualified lawyer will be able to have a security expert investigate the property to determine if the property owner failed to meet security expectations and analyze the existing security measures.
Additionally, a lawyer or expert will look at public records that show the frequency of crime in the area and whether the property has a history of criminal activity. With this information, a lawyer will be able to build a case that a property owner should have been aware of crime risks and taken sufficient actions.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.