Negligent Security and Premises Liability Lawyer in West Palm Beach, Florida
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If you or a loved one were harmed due to negligent security (unreasonable security) in Palm Beach County or elsewhere in Florida, you’ll want to speak to a negligent security attorney right away. They are able to clarify your legal options, including how you could bring an effective insurance claim or lawsuit. The Law Offices of Roger P. Foley P.A. assists injured victims acquire maximum compensation for their injury claims.
- What is Negligent Security?
- Negligent Security and Premises Liability Claims
- What Kinds of Crimes Lead to a Negligent Security Claim?
- Can I Sue the Criminal for the Attack?
- Why Sue the Business or Property Owner if They Did Not Commit the Attack?
- What Type of Businesses or Establishments Are Common in Negligent Security Cases?
- Can I Sue for an Attack in My Apartment or Apartment Building?
- Can I Sue if I'm Attacked at a Gas Station?
- Can I Sue for Damages if I Was Attacked at a Hotel?
- Can I Sue a Restaurant, Bar or Nightclub if I Was Injured Due to Inadequate Security?
- What Kinds of Security Must a Business Provide?
- Can I Sue a Security Company?
- How Does a Court Decide Whether Crime Was Foreseeable?
- What Security Does an Apartment Building or Complex Need?
- What Should I Do After an Attack?
- What Compensation Can I Receive if I File a Negligent Security Claim?
- Medical Bills & Related Expenses
- Lost Income / Lost Wages
- Physical Pain & Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Loss of Consortium
- Punitive Damages
- Will the Defendant Blame Me for the Attack?
- How Much Time Do I Have to Sue? Statute of Limitations
- What is the Florida Crime Victim Compensation Fund?
- How Can a Florida Negligent Security Attorney Help Me?
- What Do I Do if I Can’t Afford a Lawyer for My Inadequate Security Case?
- Florida Negligent Security Attorney in Florida
Violent crime is a fact of life today in Florida. On a daily basis, television stations, news media outlets and social media sites provide coverage of scary attacks in parking lots of businesses, apartment buildings, train stations, airports, college campuses, hotels, amusement parks, and other areas where businesses have a duty to provide a safe area for customers.
If you have recently been attacked anywhere other than a home that you own, you might be able to bring a claim against the property or business owner for failing to use reasonable security measures. Businesses, schools, and landlords have a duty to make their property reasonably safe for visitors, customers, and tenants. Of course, no property owner can guarantee that you will never be attacked while on their property. But they must maintain an adequate standard of security based on the reality that crime does occur.
Negligent security claims are based on the concept of negligence. In other words, the business or landowner has a responsibility to keep guests that come onto the property safe. When they do not take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their guests, then they are considered to be negligent. Businesses or property owners that are negligent in their duty to provide a safe atmosphere can be sued for the injuries and damages that occur as a result of their negligence. Still, it will need to be shown that the injuries and damages that you suffered were a direct result of the property owner’s failure to provide a safe premises.
You are, undoubtedly, navigating a difficult time right now. You might be reliving your attack and finding it hard to move on. The Law Offices of Roger P. Foley P.A. can help to relieve some of the burden by tackling the legal issues you’re facing so that you can focus on healing. Our negligent security lawyers will hold businesses accountable when their lack of security contributes to the cause of an attack.
Negligent Security and Premises Liability Claims
Negligent security claims are a type of premises liability lawsuit. In any premises liability suit, it is important to understand that the case may turn on why you were on the property when you were attacked or otherwise suffered damages. Depending on why you were on the property, that may affect the responsibility the owner had to keep you safe.
For instance, if you were an invited guest, then the property owner has the highest responsibility under the law to keep you safe while you are on the property. You are considered an invited guest when your neighbor invites you over to their home, when you enter a business that is open to the public, and when you are at a non-business that is open to the public (i.e. public park).
If you enter a property that is not open to the public and you were not given permission by the owner, then you may be considered a trespasser. In other words, trespassers have no legal right to be on the property. Property owners generally are not responsible to keep trespassers safe when they enter their property.
One of the only exceptions is when the trespasser is a child. Still, in these limited circumstances, a premises liability claim can usually only be brought if there was something on the property (also known as an attractive nuisance) that the owner knew would attract children. For instance, if your child wanders onto a property that has a swing set and is then attacked or injured, then you may be able to bring a premises liability claim even though your child did not have permission to be on the property.
What Kinds of Crimes Lead to a Negligent Security Claim?
You could bring a negligent security claim if you were injured in any type of attack. However, common claims for negligent security include but are not limited to:
- Battery. No one is lawfully permitted to touch you in a harmful or offensive way without your permission. Examples of battery can be a punch to the face causing minor injuries (misdemeanor battery), punch or kick causing a broken bone(s) or teeth (felony battery) or being stabbed (aggravated battery).
- Sex crimes. You can bring a negligent security claim for sexual battery or rape.
- Homicide/ Murder. If a loved one was killed due, in part, to negligent security, you and your family may be entitled to legal damages for wrongful death.
- Mass Shootings
Provided that you suffered a significant injury, you may be able to successfully sue those who caused you harm, in addition to the property or business owner whose negligent approach to security helped facilitate the circumstances that led to your attack.
Can I Sue the Criminal for the Attack?
Someone who intentionally attacks you has committed civil wrongdoing, called a tort. In Florida, assault, battery, and the other examples of criminal wrongdoing detailed above are crimes, as well as torts. You can sue your attacker in civil court for compensation related to the harm you have suffered. Your ability to bring a claim in civil court is distinct from any charges being brought against your attacker in criminal court. However, these matters are often a part of restitution in criminal cases. It is rare that a criminal has an insurance policy or financial resources to make the victim whole so many victims need to look at the premises where the intentional tort took place to determine if adequate security was provided
Why Sue the Business or Property Owner if They Did Not Commit the Attack?
It is important to understand that the owner of the business or property where you were attacked is not criminally responsible for what happened. In other words, the property owner typically cannot be charged with a crime if you were attacked by a third party while on their property. Still, the property owner may be responsible for not providing adequate or reasonable security measures at their property.
Only the property owner has control over the security at their property. The law says that property owners have a responsibility to their guests to provide a safe atmosphere, within reason. In other words, if a property owner knows that there have recently been serious injuries to guests while on the property, then the owner has a responsibility to take reasonable steps to keep guests safe from those injuries. If they fail to do so, then they may be forced to pay you damages for any serious harm that you have suffered while on the property.
What Type of Businesses or Establishments Are Common in Negligent Security Cases?
Negligent security claims are often brought against the following types of establishments:
- Apartment complexes
- Hotels and motels
- Bars or taverns
- Theme parks and water parks
- Retail stores
- Shopping malls
- Movie theaters
- Convenience stores and gas stations
- Universities and colleges
- Railroad and Metro Stations
- Concert Venues
- Sporting Events
Virtually any business owes some measure of security to its customers, as well as to visitors. Discuss your case with an experienced Florida negligent security lawyer to learn more about your rights and options, including which property or business owner(s) may have been negligent in providing adequate security at their Florida business or property.
Can I Sue for an Attack in My Apartment or Apartment Building?
You can sue a landlord or property manager of an apartment building if they fail to provide reasonable security. In fact, many of the strongest negligent security claims originate in apartment buildings. People who rent an apartment obviously expect to be kept safe. If someone breaks in and attacks you while you’re residing in or visiting an apartment building, you may be entitled to bring legal action.
Can I Sue if I'm Attacked at a Gas Station?
Absolutely, if the gas station owner knew of the dangers and failed to provide adequate security. Gas stations are known to be areas of crime, specifically they are targets of robberies and muggings. The Florida Convenience Store Statute requires gas station owners to provide additional or enhanced security measures to protect guests if the station is open between 11:00pm and 5:00am.
A gas station negligent security lawyer will investigate factors that should have alerted the gas station owner to the foreseeability or potential for crime at their locality. Such factors include but are not limited to:
- History of crimes at or near the gas station
- Specifically what security procedures were implemented to protect the public from crime
- Police calls to that location and surrounding neighborhood (crime grid)
- Broken lights
- Gas pumps in plain view of employees
Can I Sue for Damages if I Was Attacked at a Hotel?
Yes. The owners of hotels owe a duty of care to their guests. That duty of care is to provide an adequately safe environment and correct any dangerous conditions. When Hotel owners or their agents breach their duty and harm is brought to the guest or visitor then a claim for negligent security can be made.
Common Types of negligent Security:
- Non-functioning security cameras
- Lack of security personnel
- Lack of alarms
- Broken lighting or improperly lit areas ( pool area, hallways, parking lots)
- Unlocked doors or non-functioning key pads to common areas or rooms
- Hidden or improper cameras / Peepholes
- Failure to remove intoxicated or disorderly guests
Can I Sue a Restaurant, Bar or Nightclub if I Was Injured Due to Inadequate Security?
Yes. An example of inadequate security may be an establishment that over serves alcohol to a patron. That patron becomes rowdy and security allows him to stay on the premises. While intoxicated he sucker punches another patron and that patron has a broken orbital bone from the battery and a traumatic brain injury because when he fell he hit his head on the ground. The restaurant knew or should have known that overserving a patron and allowing him to remain could result in serious injury to another guest.
What Kinds of Security Must a Business Provide?
Florida courts will look at many factors to determine whether a business had enough security in the face of allegations that it did not. The test that the court will apply involves whether criminal activity was “foreseeable.” If the owner should have known crime was likely to occur on the premises, they were required to employ adequate security measures to address that crime risk.
Some common security measures that property owners employ include:
- Proper lighting in passages, footpaths, and parking lots
- Security cameras
- Front desk help
- Bouncers or other security guards
- Security patrols around the premises
- Emergency alarms
- Locks on windows and doors
- Trimming of bushes and trees that limit visibility
- Maintained Fences
- Restricting building access
- Exhibiting “No Trespass Signs”
The more foreseeable it is that crime will occur, the higher the standard of security the business must use when preparing to address that risk.
Can I Sue a Security Company?
While it is possible to sue a security company, it can be difficult as they are often contracted by the business or property owner. This is because the law generally views security companies as being responsible to the owner of the business or property for providing a safe atmosphere, not the guests. However, there are situations where the security company may be deemed liable, specifically when their negligence allowed the crime to occur:
- Failed to make rounds of the premises
- Failed to monitor cameras
- Failed to lock gates or secure buildings
- Failed to respond to complaints about trespassers
- Improperly trained
- Improper hiring of non qualified personnel
- Lack of security guards on duty
How Does a Court Decide Whether Crime Was Foreseeable?
The court will look at many factors when assessing whether a property owner should have known that there was a risk of crime occurring on their premises. These are the most important:
- Prior crimes in the area. If the area in question has a high crime rate, property owners must employ greater security measures than one ordinarily would. Courts may look at statistics concerning the neighborhood to gauge the level of crime applicable to a negligent security case.
- Prior crimes on the property. This is slightly different from the factor above. Even if the area is relatively safe, a property owner might need more security given a history of criminal activity on its premises.
- Any complaints of dangerous or suspicious people. For example, if someone is hanging around a motel without renting a room, management is on notice that this person is suspicious. They must take reasonable steps to protect guests. This is true even if they have no history of crime at the motel.
What Security Does an Apartment Building or Complex Need?
Courts look at many of the same factors as those listed above when assessing how much security is required in a residential facility. Apartments should also have many safety features required by local building codes. For example, a landlord who rents an apartment without a functioning lock has no doubt failed to provide adequate security.
Other security measures often found in apartment buildings include:
- Locked gates
- Keyed entries
- Intercoms at the door
- Front desk clerks
- Security patrols
Again, the amount and type of security required of a property owner will also depend on the history of crime in the area and any prior criminal activity that has taken place at the apartment building specifically.
What Should I Do After an Attack?
You should immediately report the incident to the business owner or landlord. They must know about your situation in order to protect other guests or tenants. For example, they can evacuate others, contact police, and help prevent the assailant from attacking another person. They can also make changes to their security measures to prevent additional harm.
You should also report the crime to the police. They can search for the suspect if you provide a thorough description of your attacker (or as much as you saw). You can bring a negligent security claim even if the police never find your assailant.
Our negligent security lawyers also recommend immediately going to the hospital. Hospital records can fully document the severity of your injuries following an attack. Photographs of your wounds can also strengthen a claim. Most importantly, you’ll receive any and all care that you may need to properly address your physical injuries. Finally, connect with a top rated negligent security lawyer so that you understand your options under the law.
What Compensation Can I Receive if I File a Negligent Security Claim?
Our negligent security attorneys strive to make our clients financially “whole.” This means that our legal team aims to ensure that you are not saddled with any financial burdens as a result of your attack. Florida law lets victims seek compensation for certain economic and non-economic damages. Our firm will seek the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled in any of these compensation categories.
Medical Bills & Related Expenses
You should go immediately to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment. Violent attacks often cause serious injuries including fractures and head injuries. If you were stabbed or shot, then you might need to stay in the Intensive Care Unit due to damage to vital organs.
After receiving surgery or other medical attention, you may require rehabilitation and physical therapy. The costs associated with medical care may reach five or six figures. A successful damages award will cover the costs of all of your medical care related to the attack.
Lost Income / Lost Wages
After an attack, physical injuries and flashbacks might require that you stay home and recuperate. Many victims of violent attacks lose months of income. You should make a claim to cover these losses.
Physical Pain & Suffering
Despite painkillers and sleeping pills, you might suffer intensely after an attack. Back injuries can cause sharp pain whenever you move, and a fractured leg could keep you up at night. Part of making you “whole” involves compensating you for this distress. It is important that your legal team fight to receive compensation for your pain and suffering.
Violent attacks often cause as much or more psychological damage as they do physical pain. Many victims express fear of leaving the house or being around strangers. They might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or slip into depression. Some are so angry over the attack they cannot return to their normal lives—even after years of suffering. Seeking compensation for mental anguish is possible.
Loss of Consortium
Your spouse could have a legal right to compensation under Florida law as a result of the harm that you have suffered. For example, a loss of consortium claim compensates them for changes to your marital relationship. For example, you might refuse to be intimate with your spouse after a rape. Or you might be unable to provide the emotional support to your spouse that you once did. These losses unfairly affect your spouse, who should seek monetary compensation accordingly.
In Florida, it is possible to sue for punitive damages when bringing a negligent security claim. Punitive damages are different from other types of damages because they are not designed to replace or compensate you for what you have lost. Instead, punitive damages are meant to punish the responsible party in an effort to deter them from similar future behavior. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are limited to $500,000 in the state of Florida.
Will the Defendant Blame Me for the Attack?
This sometimes happens in negligent security cases. There’s a simple reason why. Florida has a comparative fault law, which reduces a victim’s compensation by their degree of fault. Defendants have an incentive to claim that the plaintiff’s negligence led to the attack because defendants will pay less if they are successful in mounting this kind of defense.
For example, the defendant might claim you were reading your social media page, not paying attention to your surroundings, and wandered into a dark alley of your own free will. Or they could argue you voluntarily left a business with someone who later sexually assaulted you. With these arguments, they will try to shift the blame to you.
We are dedicated to protecting our clients’ rights. We make sure to respond aggressively to any victim-blaming that might happen in your case. As always, we’ll keep the focus where it belongs: on the defendant’s inadequate security and the extent of the harm you have suffered.
How Much Time Do I Have to Sue? Statute of Limitations
Florida law gives victims four (4) years from the date of an attack to file a lawsuit. You have this amount of time regardless of whether you hire an attorney or not. However, we recommend acting without delay. The more time you wait, the more evidence can disappear or become compromised, which can make bringing a successful claim difficult. If you go over this statute of limitations deadline—even by a day—you’ll lose the ability to sue a property owner for their negligent security in Florida.
What is the Florida Crime Victim Compensation Fund?
Florida maintains a compensation fund that pays money to crime victims. If you have suffered an injury, you can receive compensation for things like lost income, medical care, and disability.
The program has certain qualifications. For example, you must report the crime to the police within 120 hours (basically 5 days). You also must fully cooperate with the police and the State in the investigation. We will gladly discuss whether applying to the crime victim fund makes sense in your case, and we can assist you with completing this application.
How Can a Florida Negligent Security Attorney Help Me?
Premises liability is a complicated area of law. As mentioned above, there are few clear-cut rules regarding security. To make a claim, you need to do more than simply point out that you were injured. You’ll need to connect the defendant’s lack of adequate security to the attack and the injuries you suffered.
Our legal team can do the following for you:
- Visit the scene of the attack and document what security measures were in place.
- Request crime report or crime grid information from police about the business or property that details prior violent attacks on the premises.
- Analyze crime statistics for the neighborhood.
- Interview witnesses who might have seen the attack to preserve their testimony .
- Help you document all financial and non-financial losses to prove your claim.
- Rebuff accusations that your own negligence contributed to the attack.
These are only some of the important tasks we undertake for our clients. Contact us if you are in need of assistance.
What Do I Do if I Can’t Afford a Lawyer for My Inadequate Security Case?
Generally, negligent security cases are based on a contingency fee. This means that we’ll decline to charge attorney fees upfront. Instead, we’ll accept a portion of your settlement or court award if we win your case. You’ll take home the rest. Contingency agreements make the services of a skilled Florida negligent security attorney available to you immediately. If you don’t win, the firm does not get paid.
Florida Negligent Security Attorney in Florida
Part of recovering from a violent attack involves taking control of your future to the fullest possible extent. At The Law Offices of Roger P. Foley P.A., we are proud to represent injured victims in negligent security claims.
The road to receiving compensation can be difficult. Few property owners want to admit that they provided subpar security, and they might even blame you for your own attack. We will be your voice.