Fort Lauderdale Negligent Security Attorney
Data collected by the FBI indicates that more than 1.2 million people are the victims of violent crime every year, but statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) highlight the problem closer to home.
- Every year, almost 104,000 people are arrested statewide for such crimes as murder, aggravated assault, and manslaughter.
- More than 17 percent of these offenses occur in South Florida, including Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties.
- Firearms play a central role in many of these crimes, as around 75 percent of all murders and 28 percent of aggravated assaults involve use of guns.
While assailants may face harsh punishment after being convicted of a violent crime, the lives of the victims they attack are forever changed. Physical injuries, emotional pain and suffering, and financial implications can be devastating. You might be aware that Florida personal injury laws cover accidents, paying compensation to victims who sustain losses due to someone else’s negligence. However, there are some personal injury concepts that carry over if you suffered injuries because of intentional and criminal conduct.
You may qualify to recover monetary damages under a legal theory of liability termed negligent security in Florida, but these cases are complicated by the fact that you do not pursue the offender. Instead, you seek compensation from a business or property owner that was negligent in allowing criminal activity to take place on the premises. Because of the complexities, retaining experienced legal representation is critical.
At Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law, our team is well-versed in all types of personal injury cases, including claims based upon negligent security. We are dedicated to pursuing all potential parties to ensure you get the compensation you deserve under Florida law. Please contact our office to schedule a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale negligent security attorney who can offer specific legal advice based upon your circumstances. An overview of the key concepts may also help you understand what to expect.
Comparing Criminal and Civil Cases
At the outset, it is important to describe a key distinction in the types of cases that stem from an assault, shooting, or other violent crime: Civil versus criminal cases. It is true that an offender may be arrested and go through the criminal process. In these cases, the plaintiff is the government and the offender is the defendant; a “win” is a conviction, after which the person may face jail time, fines, and other punishment.
If you are the victim of a crime, you are not a party to the criminal case. Other than getting closure and seeing justice done, you gain nothing from a conviction. Instead, you have rights in a civil lawsuit, through which you can seek compensation for your losses. Fortunately, the burden is lower in a civil case. You need proof by a preponderance of the evidence, instead of the extremely challenging standard in a criminal case – proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Summary of Florida Premises Liability Laws
As mentioned above, the point of a negligent security case is to recover compensation from a careless property owner instead of the offender. There are four elements that you must prove, and our Broward County negligent security attorneys at Boone & Davis can explain each in more detail:
- Duty: You must show that the business or property owner had a duty to maintain a safe space, and there may be many sources of this obligation. Premises liability is the common law concept that imposes this duty. However, federal and state statutes, as well as local building codes and regulations may also include requirements.
- Breach: You will need evidence proving the ways that the owner or other party in control over the property breached the duty of care. In some cases, you might have proof of a statutory violation. For a common law premises liability claim, the focus is on what a reasonably prudent business would do to protect those who enter the property.
- Causation: There must be a direct link between the breach of duty and the criminal act that led to your injuries, such that you would not have been hurt but for the breach.
- Damages: It is necessary to establish the losses you suffered because of being injured, including physical, emotional, and financial implications.
Negligent Security is a Type of Premises Liability Claim
With this legal overview in mind, you should understand that claims of negligent security fall under premises liability principles. Carrying over the above elements:
- The duty of the property owner is important, since a party can only be expected to protect against foreseeable risks. A negligent security claim often involves determining what measures would have been appropriate under the specific circumstances present at the property or business.
- Evidence of breach is also central in a negligent security claim because it refers to the errors or omissions by the property owner. The at-fault party may breach the duty of care by:
- Failing to install adequate lighting, thereby inviting criminal activity;
- Not implementing auto-locking doors, gates, and fencing to prevent offenders from entering;
- Refusing to hire a security guard to monitor the premises;
- Neglecting to equip the property with an alarm system to alert police; and,
- Failure to fix broken, defective components of a security system.
Compensation is Available for Injured Victims
If you have solid evidence of the above elements, you may qualify to recover monetary damages for your losses. The point of compensation is to put you in the same position you would be had the attack or shooting not happened, at least as much as practically possible. With help from a Fort Lauderdale negligent security attorney lawyer at Boone & Davis, you could obtain two types of compensation:
- Economic Damages: Certain losses that are out-of-pocket or definable by a dollar value are considered economic, including medical costs and lost wages.
- Noneconomic Damages: Some losses are not associated with an exact amount, but you still sustain ramifications of personal, subjective nature. This is especially true when you are the victim of a crime and experience psychological impacts of violence. As noneconomic damages, you might be eligible to recover:
- Medical costs to treat your injuries and address emotional health needs;
- Lost wages, if you were unable to work because of an incident involving negligent security;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Losses that impact your quality of life and relationships with loved ones.
Steps in the Legal Process for a Negligent Security Case
Initially, you will likely be dealing with an insurance company in any premises liability case. Business and property owners protect their interests by carrying insurance policies that cover injured victims. Our South Florida negligent security attorney lawyers at Boone & Davis will assist with all steps in the legal process, including:
Investigations: Knowing the importance of evidence, you can see that conducting an in-depth probe is crucial before approaching the insurer. Aside from proof of the property owner’s breach of duty, it is also necessary to get all records related to your injuries, treatment, prognosis, and physical limitations.
Insurance Claim Process: Filling out forms is just a minor part of the insurance process. In conducting its own investigation, the insurer will focus much attention to the information and documents you provide in support of your claim. However, the goal of the claims adjuster is not to guide you through the process. Instead, the company is looking for reasons to deny payment or justify a lowball counteroffer that does not adequately compensate you for your losses. Insurers will often refuse to settle for a fair amount to protect their own financial interests.
Litigation: If the insurance company will not agree to a reasonable settlement, the next step is suing in court. Our team at Boone & Davis has extensive trial advocacy skills and experience in a courtroom, so we will handle:
- Drafting the complaint to initiate litigation;
- Filing motions to advance your position;
- Defending motions filed by opposing counsel;
- Conducting documentary discovery, including written interrogatories, production of documents, and requests to admit facts;
- Taking depositions of parties, witnesses, and others with information about the incident in which you were hurt;
- Presenting you for depositions;
- Appearances in court; and
- All pretrial matters and preparation for trial.
How Fatal Negligent Security Claims Work
An injured victim suffers tremendously when a property owner’s breach of duty enables violent crime, but these incidents can also carry tragic circumstances. Assault, gun violence, and other attacks are often fatal, so entire families are left with a void by their loved one’s passing. Florida personal injury laws, including the concepts of premises liability and negligent security, also apply when an individual is killed.
Under state wrongful death laws, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate has standing to pursue a legal claim against a negligent property owner. This individual seeks damages on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, and certain relatives who were reliant upon the deceased. You can trust our Fort Lauderdale wrongful death lawyers at Boone & Davis to represent you in such a case, which focuses on the losses of the survivors. We will seek damages for:
- Medical costs to treat the victim before his or her passing;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Losses related to the decedent’s financial contributions, such as lost wages and future earning capacity; and
- Loss of consortium, education, guidance, love, training, and other quality of life implications.
Limitations on Negligent Security Claims
Your claim is in good hands when you work with our team at Boone & Davis, but there are some factors that you should note because of how they affect your rights.
Statute of Limitations: Like other US states, Florida sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit in court related to a negligent security case. You have four years from the date of the incident to initiate litigation, and exceptions to the law are rare. If you do not sue in court before the statute of limitations expires, you are barred from recovering monetary damages.
Special Laws for Convenience Stores: When an establishment qualifies as a convenience business according to the Florida statute definition, it is required to implement minimum security requirements. This law has two important implications:
- A convenience store that does NOT comply with the law might receive a penalty, but a violation is also solid evidence that the owner was negligent. Citations serve as proof of negligence per se, i.e., negligence on its face.
- When the convenience store owner DOES comply with the statutory requirements, the law could operate against you. By implementing the designated security measures, the owner may take advantage of a safe harbor that insulates the business from liability.
Trespassing in Negligent Security Cases: Florida premises liability laws do not aim to provide a windfall to victims who are hurt while illegally present on the property. If you were trespassing at the time that you were assaulted, you are prohibited from recovering any compensation. No amount of evidence proving the owner’s negligent security will rescue your claim as a trespasser.
Comparative Fault: There is another legal concept that highlights your own conduct in a case of negligent security, since Florida has a statute on comparative fault. If your negligent acts contributed to the incident, your compensation will be reduced by the amount of fault assigned to your conduct. Ignoring warning signage and entering restricted areas are examples.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Negligent Security Attorneys to Discuss Your Options
This summary of negligent security laws in Florida may be useful for covering the basics, but in-depth legal knowledge, experience, and attention to detail are critical to ensuring you recover proper compensation for your losses. If you were hurt because of intentional or criminal acts on property, please contact Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law to set up a no-cost case review. You can reach our office in Fort Lauderdale, FL by calling 954-566-9919 or visiting us online. Once we learn more about your situation, we can advise you on next steps in a claim based upon negligent security.