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Northeast Florida Negligent Security Cases

Imagine this scenario: You arrive home to your apartment late one night after a long day of work. You believe that the entryway to your building is perfectly safe. As you fumble for your keys in the dark, you notice a figure lingering in the shadows a few yards away, and it starts to move in your direction. It now occurs to you that the lights outside your hallway are still not working – why has the maintenance crew not replaced those bulbs yet? With a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach, you hurriedly jam your key into the lock and rush inside the building, breathing a sigh of relief when you hear the door lock behind you.

Most of us are rightfully wary of unfamiliar or obviously unsafe locations, particularly at night. However, in familiar settings like an apartment complex, a motel, a restaurant or a commercial establishment, we expect that the business took reasonable measures to protect us from criminal activity. When those safeguards fail – or, worse, do not exist – we can find ourselves in sudden, unexpected danger.

If you have been the victim of criminal activity on someone else’s property, and you have suffered physical and emotional injuries, those injuries might easily have been prevented if the property owner had taken basic, appropriate, and necessary precautions. The Jacksonville negligent security lawyers at the Alexander Law Practice are here to help. As a former prosecutor, Richard R. Alexander understands how to pursue claims involving criminal activity, and he will fight to help you recover your losses. Let our attorneys help you feel safe again.

What Is a Negligent Security Case?

Crimes such as robbery, rape, battery, and shootings are typically prosecuted through the criminal justice system, with charges imposed by the government on the individuals who commit crimes. Victims quickly learn that criminal prosecution focuses on the criminal, not the victim. The prosecutor’s job is to punish the perpetrator and thereby deter that individual specifically, and society generally, from engaging in criminal behavior.

What many victims do not realize is that there is also a tribunal that is victim focused. Victims of crime might be able to file a civil claim for money damages for the losses they suffered, even including the wrongful death of a loved one. Civil courts call these negligent security claims. A negligent security claim is typically brought against the business or property owner where the criminal activity occurred. A careless business may expose its customers to crimes which its owners should foresee and take reasonable steps to prevent. It can be as simple as failing to replace burnt out light bulbs, or being aware that the business location is in a high crime neighborhood. The average customer expects a business to provide a reasonable level of safety to shop, eat, or engage in the routine activity of that business. That customer may have no idea that the business has carelessly left them exposed to violent crime simply by arriving at the business. 

Business and property owners have an obligation to take reasonable precautions to avoid danger for their employees and customers on the property they control. When a business or property owner fails to take those precautions and the customer becomes a victim, the victim may be entitled to recover money for medical bills, loss of income, even pain and suffering. In fact, the victim may bring a lawsuit against the property owner for negligent security even if the criminal escapes arrest and cannot be prosecuted. Sometimes, it is the only justice the victim receives.

As in other premises liability cases such as slip, trip and fall claims, to recover damages in a negligent security case, the injured party must be able to demonstrate that:

  • A dangerous condition existed on the property that exposed the victim to crime;
  • The owner or operator knew or should have been aware of the condition (in other words, the prospect of criminal activity occurring was reasonably foreseeable);
  • The owner or operator failed to take reasonable steps to address the problem and/or provide warnings about the danger; and
  • This failure allowed the crime to occur, causing the victim’s injury.

Examples of Negligent Security Claims

Negligent security claims are on the rise in Northeast Florida, and our Jacksonville negligent security attorneys have handled a wide variety of these types of cases. We assist plaintiffs in bringing negligent security claims when crimes occur at the following types of locations:

  • Rental properties
  • Restaurants or night clubs
  • Colleges and universities
  • ATMs 
  • Hotels or resorts
  • Convenience stores and other retail businesses

Examples of dangerous conditions that create the opportunity for criminal activity and may be grounds for negligent security claims against a property owner or operator include:

  • Inadequate or poorly maintained lighting, such as poorly-lit parking lots or garages;
  • Inadequate or compromised fencing;
  • Defective deadbolts, exposed hinges, or broken window locks;
  • Failure to implement or maintain security systems such as access cards, buzzers, cameras, alarms or other monitoring systems; and
  • Not having security or having inadequate security, or security guards who are unlicensed, poorly screened, improperly trained, inadequately supervised, or are negligent in performance of their duty.

What constitutes a “reasonable” security measure will depend on the type and the location of the business at issue. Often, the known crime history of the surrounding area is something about which the business is well aware--but the average customer has no clue. In many cases, businesses and educational institutions should have rigorous security practices in place with properly trained and vetted security personnel. Reasonable security for an apartment complex in a known high-crime area frequently includes security guards, a security gate, and access cards. Convenience stores are a particularly common location for criminal activity in Florida, with the result that state law specifically requires convenience stores to implement security measures such as cameras, silent alarms, lighted parking lots and posted signs and notices. If you were the victim of criminal activity on property that did not have properly functioning security measures in place, you may have a claim for negligent security.

How Can a Jacksonville Negligent Security Lawyer Help?

If you were the victim of criminal activity on a residential or commercial property, a knowledgeable and experienced negligent security lawyer can help you build your case against the responsible property owner. Our Jacksonville negligent security lawyers have experience gathering and documenting evidence, hiring security experts who can substantiate the precautions that should have been taken, preparing and filing claims, negotiating with insurance carriers and defense counsel, and representing our clients in court.

While it is always wise to take precautions to protect yourself, you should not have to worry about whether your landlord or local business owners are adequately protecting you from criminal activity. If you have been affected by preventable criminal activity on another person’s property, filing a negligent security claim can help ensure that others will not have to endure the same injuries you suffered. Contact The Alexander Law Practice by phone or online to speak with an attorney about the next steps for filing a claim.