Injuries Resulting from a Business’ Failure to Provide Adequate Security for Patrons
When a person is injured on a business’s premises, due to lack of security, that person may be able to file a lawsuit against that company for failure to provide adequate security. Visitors to a business as well as tenants of apartment and condo complexes have the right to be reasonably protected from criminal acts. Obviously, only the criminal is responsible for their actions, however in certain situations, the owner of the business, property owners, or security companies could be responsible for a crime which occurred on their premises when they failed to take reasonable precautions to provide security. Property owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the management of premises in order to ensure those who live on the premises or who are visitors or customers are protected. Some instances of inadequate security include:
- Lack of security guards;
- Too few security guards;
- No security system;
- Inoperable security system;
- No security cameras;
- Too few security cameras or inoperable security cameras, and
- Too few employees working at the business.
When inadequate security is present, there may be a resulting increase in criminal activity. When the business owner becomes aware of the increase in criminal activity, it is his or her responsibility to take necessary measures to increase security. If the owner neglects to do so, he or she may be responsible for any resulting injuries. Some recent jury verdicts regarding inadequate security measures include:
- A plaintiff was shot in 2006 as he left a Boomers! Children’s entertainment park in Florida. The plaintiff asserted the shooting would not have taken place if the park had provided adequate security. Since the park and parking lot were in a high crime area, with a significant number of attacks taking place, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding more than $4 million.
- A Florida pharmacist who worked at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center was killed by a drug user. Shands employed Wackenhut Security Corporation, therefore the estate of the pharmacist filed suit against Wackenhut, claiming the company was well aware of prior criminal incidents. The jury found the security company 75 percent liable, awarding the family nearly $6 million.
- An apartment resident was attacked by a fleeing felon, and was awarded nearly $2 million by the jury when they heard she was forced to jump from a window of her apartment in order to escape harm from the felon. Since there had been prior incidents of crime in the area and the apartment complex had made no effort to increase security measures, the owner of the complex was liable for the resident’s injuries.
Criminal activity can affect anyone, at any time, however when that criminal activity is a direct result of inadequate security measures, the business owner may be liable. Negligent security assumes the crime which occurred (murder, rape, robbery, etc.) could have either been prevented, or, at the very least made less likely, by ensuring proper security measures were in place. The plaintiff in a failure to provide adequate security case, must show no reasonable care was exercised by the owner or that there was no reasonable care taken to discover whether there had been a significant number of criminal acts in the area. The success of any claim may also depend upon whether the owner failed to warn visitors of prior criminal activities. The plaintiff must show:
- He or she was on the premises lawfully;
- That the owner breached his or her duty to offer reasonable security measures;
- An injury by a third party occurred;
- The third party’s acts were foreseeable to the defendant;
- The plaintiff would have suffered no injuries except for the breach of duty on the part of the defendant, and
- There were actual damages incurred.
The issue of foreseeability is critical in any case. If similar crimes took place in the same approximate location and the owner of the property knew about those crimes, then your injuries resulting from a similar crime could have reasonably be foreseen. The court may take into account how frequently similar crimes occurred, whether they were property crimes or violent crimes, and how recently one of those crimes occurred prior to your own.
What is Considered Adequate Security?
The question of what will be considered adequate security will be different in every case. Adequately trained security guards, sufficient lighting, functioning security cameras, functioning locks on doors, and restricting the ability to hand out duplicate keys are all instances of adequate security. While you might not reasonably expect a upscale hotel in a low-crime area to have full-time security guards, a hotel in an area which had experienced multiple criminal acts might be expected to have security guards to protect patrons from those acts.
Call Stroud, Flechas & Dalton for Experienced, Compassionate Legal Assistance
Being injured as a result of a criminal act can be a traumatic experience. Not only are you dealing with your actual physical injuries, you may be forced to deal with serious emotional issues resulting from an attack or other criminal act. You expect to have a certain amount of security when you stay at a hotel or motel or walk to your car in a parking lot. When that security is inadequate or non-existent, and you suffer injuries as a result, you need an experienced, solid legal advocate who has the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure you are compensated for your injuries. Of course nothing can undo a criminal act, and money will not end your emotional suffering, but having the necessary funds to pay for the medical treatments you require can at least take one worry off your mind. Call Stroud, Flechas & Dalton at (662) 536-5656. Our attorneys will treat you with respect and compassion and will work hard on your behalf to get you the best result possible.