Many people are aware that property owners can be held liable for slip and fall injuries and other accidents that occur on their premises. Fewer know, however, that in certain cases Florida law allows a property owner to be held liable for failing to provide sufficient security and safety precautions to keep guests safe. Some of the most common examples of the types of negligent security cases that arise in Florida involve robberies, false imprisonments, batteries, and sexual assaults. In the most tragic instances, a victim loses his or her life as a result of a property owner's negligence.
In 2014, for example, a Florida man shot and killed a mother and son during a robbery before killing himself at the scene. Reports regarding the horrific event suggested that the perpetrator had been involved in substantial criminal activity and had a lengthy rap sheet, but the landlord allowed him to rent an apartment at the gated community because the gunman's father owned a construction company that performed work for the landlord. In usual cases, the gated community required applicants to undergo a thorough and extensive background check before being able to reside at the complex.
According to the ensuing criminal trial and civil trial brought by the mother's and son's surviving heirs, the perpetrator had become friendly with the security guards at the entrance to the gated residence in addition to developing relationships with some of the other tenants. The perpetrator kept a loaded rifle and ammunition in his apartment. Due to his relationships with the guards and some of the tenants, however, no one questioned his residency or the weapons.
Investigations have revealed that the gunman and son had developed a friendship. The perpetrator learned that the son kept a large amount of money in his residence. One day, the perpetrator asked the son if they could meet at his house. The mother drove the son to the home because the son had a suspended driver's license. The events that followed are unclear, but all three parties lost their lives as a result.
In the pending civil lawsuit, the heirs alleged several incidents of negligent security, including negligence in allowing the gunman to reside at the property and in failing to adhere to the background check procedures that were customarily invoked. According to Florida law, a negligent security claim requires a plaintiff to show that the defendant was in control of the premises where the tortious act occurred. In some cases, the plaintiff may also prevail by showing that the defendant had actual or constructive notice that a crime committed by a third party on the premises would be foreseeable.
Florida is home to numerous hotels, spas, recreational centers, and open spaces, creating many opportunities to fall victim to another person's carelessness. If you have been injured on another person's property as the result of the landowner's failure to exercise due care and to provide appropriate security measures, you may be entitled to compensation. At Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, we have provided compassionate legal counsel to negligent security victims throughout Southwest Florida, including in Fort Myers, Naples, and Cape Coral. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, call us at 1-800-283-7442 or contact us online.