What is Negligent Security?
As a property owner, you have a legal responsibility to provide adequate safety for all visitors to your property. This responsibility is also known as the Negligent Security Law. According to this law §768.075 of Florida statutes, you could be held liable in the event an individual is harmed within the precincts of your property. Liability ranges from cases of direct assault and injuries to injuries sustained as a result of third-party attacks. As expected, there is a minimum threshold when it comes to establishing liability. For instance, the law requires that the injured party sufficiently proves that the damages they suffered were as a result of foreseeable and preventable breaches.
Again, that requires a careful approach as you need to be aware of what the law deems a foreseeable breach. The ensuing lawsuits may be vigorous and long-drawn, which is precisely why you need a lawyer that understands how the process works. There are a high amount of cases where victims fail to establish that the property owner was indeed responsible for the breach. In this piece, we will discuss the factors considered in establishing such liability, with a special focus on crime statistics.
What The Law Says In Regards To Crime Statistics
When hearing your case, the court will determine whether the owner of the property in question was aware of these crime statistics. As the plaintiff, the case is likely to be determined in your favor if this fact is proven. This is because the landlord cannot claim ignorance as a viable defense.
So, How Do Crime Statistics Affect A Negligent Security Case?
Let us begin by emphasizing that crime statistics in an area could affect your chances with a negligent security case either positively or negatively. That depends on how well your attorney presents your case
As a business or property located in an area with high crime statistics, the owner should already be aware that criminal incidences can occur at any time. Therefore, they should adopt proactive and preemptive safety measures as part of securing their buildings from possible breaches. The law envisages that the business owner must have conducted their due diligence on the safety of such areas before setting up their premises there. Therefore, they are well aware of how vulnerable their properties are.
As the plaintiff, you will start by requesting police records as well as calls for service in relation to the property in question. Have there been incidences of crime within the property or immediate neighborhood and if so, how many and how close in time are they? And how many calls for service have ever been made recently concerning the subject property and/or its surrounding area? These are some of the questions you will need to settle as you try to establish the property owner’s foreseeability of crime rates in their locale.
Various jurisdictions have their set regulations on how far you can go in terms of ordering calls for service, but a one-mile radius is reasonable enough. Once you have these statistics, you will now need to present them before the jury. This is the time to demonstrate that the property owner just cannot claim to be unaware of the fact that the police were once called to their premises.
On crime statistics, there are especially certain elements that will improve your chances of winning the case. For instance, if there is a consistency in the crimes – such as the nature of crimes committed, the manner in which they are executed or the time that these incidents happen – you could directly impute culpability on the property owner. A good example is a jewelry store where clients are robbed immediately after they make their purchases.
But what makes an attack considered reasonably foreseeable? As we have already mentioned, that depends on how adequately your lawyer can prove the business or property owner knew, or ought to have known the likelihood of the criminal attack occurring within their premises. In legal terms, that is referred to as constructive knowledge. But in trying to establish constructive knowledge, the jury may not simply rely on the mere occurrence of crimes in the subject area. Even in an area with high crime statistics, the jury will still need to compare the most recent crimes and the one that resulted in harm to the plaintiff. They will especially consider the geographical relationship between the most recent crimes and the one in question. As we have seen, these are serious elements that must be consistent for the case to be determined in your favor.
Various courts handling negligent security cases have set a very interesting precedent. That in trying to establish constructive knowledge, the crime that resulted in the injury of the plaintiff should bear a very close resemblance to the past crimes recorded within the premise. For instance, it would be difficult for a business or property owner to foresee the likelihood of a battery within their premises even if such properties have been known for milder cases like vandalism. In such situations, the property owner could argue that the plaintiff could have directly or indirectly contributed to their own fate. However, there is still a gray area in these kinds of precedents regarding what could be considered similar cases. So, as the plaintiff, you need an attorney who can convince the jury that a petty offender is likely to commit a felony given there is sufficient motivation.
It is important to remember that in determining a negligent security case based on crime statistics, the jury may also consider how responsive the property owner has been. How prompt was the owner in getting to the victim? Did they assist the victim get the required medical attention and police assistance? What tong-term measures did they put in place to address similar breaches in the future?
However, also remember that the defendant’s awareness of the crime statistics in their area of operation may not always work in the plaintiff’s favor. For instance, this may happen if they are able to demonstrate that you were there uninvited. In other words, you were merely a trespasser, in which case you might as well be one of the burglars. Such accusations could introduce new dimensions to the case and potentially see the plaintiff losing out.
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And the best part is that we do not ask for any upfront fee. Instead, you only pay when we win the case. Are you a victim of negligent security and are looking for professional help? Give us a call today at (561 ) 806-5229 or email us at email@example.com to have our team evaluate your case.