Property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises safe for people who reasonably may be expected to enter. This usually means attending to known hazards, such as keeping walkways and stairways in good repair. But what about unexpected hazards, such as an assailant lurking somewhere on the property who inflicts harm on an unsuspecting visitor?
Under common law, a business owner has a legal duty to implement adequate security measures that will prevent reasonably foreseeable and preventable crimes against patrons who are lawfully on the property. Failure to adhere to that duty constitutes negligent security and allows a person injured in an attack on the property to sue the owner for money damages.
A claim of negligent security is made out by showing that:
- The victim was lawfully on the premises when the attack occurred
- The attack was reasonably foreseeable
- The attack was a direct result of inadequate security measures
- The attack caused injury to the victim
Each of these elements are subject to being contested in a lawsuit, so analysis by a qualified premises liability attorney is critical. The victim must be legally on the premises at the time, which means trespassers and other unauthorized visitors cannot sue over their injuries. Whether a crime is foreseeable depends on number of factors, such as whether other crimes have occurred in the area, whether they were similar in kind and how often they have been reported. Adequate security measures may consist of surveillance cameras and bright lights in outdoor common areas or, in higher-risk areas, fences and even security guards. In fact, a Florida statute protects convenience store owners from liability for attacks on their property if they take prescribed safety precautions, such as security cameras, well-lighted parking lots and silent alarms that notify law enforcement authorities.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as the result of an attack on a business owner’s property, the attorneys at Largey Law can help. We are skilled at building personal injury cases based on thorough investigation and solid evidence. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer, contact us online. We have offices in Tavares, Clermont and Inverness.