Criminal activity can affect anyone of us regardless of status, religion or race. Property owners throughout Florida owe their guests, tenants and visitors are the duty to ensure that their property is free from known, hidden and foreseeable dangers. Generally, these obligations require land and business owners to repair any known defects and warn invitees of any known and foreseeable dangers on their property. Property owners are also responsible to take reasonable efforts to prevent criminal activity such as assaults or robberies. Inadequate security measures can be a breach of this responsibility, especially if it causes damage to their invitees.
What is negligent security?
Negligent security is when a property owner fails to properly secure its property from known and reasonably foreseeable criminal activity of others. Under this legal theory, an injured party may be awarded civil compensation for violent acts and crimes that are as a result of inadequate security measures by property owners.
Negligent security typically applies to landlords and business owners, since they have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for people living in or visiting their property. The injured party may make a claim of negligent security, depending on the duty imposed on the landowner or possessor of the property. A landowner’s duty is to protect lawful visitors or tenants from the foreseeable acts of crime by a third party by offering reasonable security measures. If the duty of the landowner can be established, then the injured party would make a claim against the current owner of the property where the criminal injury was inflicted.
In a negligent security case, the complainant may be a victim of violence or criminal attacks such as rape, shooting or robbery. The injuries that are associated with inadequate security cases are often very serious and include, but are not limited to assault, battery, rape, muggings, and death.
Negligent security law assumes that such crimes could have been barred or made less likely to happen by providing appropriate security measures.
What are the duties of a property owner towards ensuring the safety of their tenants or visitors?
In Florida, a commercial property landowner owes a high standard of care to tenants and shoppers on their premises. Customers, in the eyes of the law, also known as invitees, are the highest level of property guests. Therefore, businesses should take ample precaution to prevent reasonable harm to customers while on their premises. This includes fixing stairways, parking lots, sidewalks, and building to prevent probable accidents. This also includes taking reasonable measures to avert criminal activity depending on the geographic area’s criminal record and keep the premises as reasonably safe as possible for their tenants and visitors.
The injured person is typically suing for inadequate security should establish that the landlord or property owner failed to exercise the necessary care to discover prior similar criminal activities on their property or in the surrounding geographic area and failed to take necessary steps to prevent same and/or appropriately warn its guests. In such cases, the victims may have the right to hold the property owners responsible for their pain and suffering, lost wages and injuries.
Here are elements for bringing a premises liability claim against someone for negligent security:
- The plaintiff was lawfully present on the defendant’s property.
- The defendant should be the person or organization that was overseeing the property when the incident occurred. This can be a landlord or the company leasing the commercial property.
- The defendant failed to take reasonable security measures and breached its duty.
- The criminal act was reasonably foreseeable to the defendant and the plaintiff wouldn’t have been injured, but for the defendant’s breached duty, the plaintiff incurred actual damages.
- The defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries and damage and that the incident wouldn’t have happened had the defendant taken reasonable efforts to prevent the same.
- The affected victim suffered compensable damages as a result of their negligence.