How to Hold a Defendant Liability for Negligent Security in Florida
In Florida, businesses and property owners have a basic obligation to watch out for the safety and well-being of their customers and guests. Among other things, this responsibility includes a duty to provide adequate security. Here, our Miami negligent security lawyers explain what you need to prove to hold a defendant liable in a negligent security claim.
Negligent Security in Florida: The Elements of a Successful Claim
Negligent security is a type of premises liability claim. It allows a plaintiff (injured victim) to hold a business or property owner liable for injuries caused by a third party. Negligent security claims arise in many different ways—from a fight in a bar or a nightclub to a robbery in an apartment complex. More specifically, plaintiffs in a negligent security claim need to establish the following three things:
- The defendant actually had a duty to provide some form of security;
- The defendant breached that duty through negligence; and
- The plaintiff suffered actual harm because of the breach of duty.
What constitutes negligent security is a highly fact specific issue. Businesses and property owners have a duty to provide security that is at least as good as a prudent person would provide under similar circumstances. In other words, the duty varies from situation to situation. As an example, a small town retail store probably does not have a responsibility to hire and train security guards. In contrast, large concert venues should have adequate security personnel on site.
Real World Example: Aguila v. Hilton, Inc.
To best understand how negligent security lawsuits are handled under Florida law, it is useful to consider a real world example. In 2004, a District Court of Appeal of Florida ruled against a plaintiff in a negligent security case on the grounds that there was not a sufficient connection between the third party act (a drunk driving accident) and the property owner’s conduct.
In the case of Aguila v. Hilton, Inc., a person was killed in a rear end DUI collision. Shortly before the accident, the driver was “partying” at a Panama City Beach motel. That motel advertised itself as a great spot for people visiting the region on Spring Break. The plaintiffs alleged that the motel’s effort to make itself a ‘party spot’ contributed to the fatal drunk driving crash. They noted that early that night the motel’s security guard broke up a rowdy gathering at the motel.
In the end, the court ruled against the plaintiff because Florida’s negligent security law does not stretch this far. To bring a successful negligent security claim, it is important to connect the negligent third party act (often a criminal act) directly to the property owner’s conduct. The larger the gap, the more challenging it will be to prevail.
Call Our Miami, FL Negligent Security Attorneys Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida premises liability lawyers have extensive experience representing victims of negligent security. If you or your loved one was harmed due to a property owner’s failure to provide adequate security, our law firm can help. We handle premises liability claims in Miami, West Palm Beach, and throughout the wider region. Call us now for a free, no obligation review of your case.