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Negligent Security in Florida: Hurt During a Crime – Crime Victim Claims

In Florida, there is a specific area of the law that provides help to people who have been hurt, due to the lack of securtiy, at a public or commercial location during the commission of a crime. Under Florida’s premises liability law, anyone who is invited, a guest or a visitor to a mall, a hotel, a store, a bar or restaurant, college dorm, etc., and while there becomes a victim of a violent crime has the right to recover damages for their injuries.

This area of Florida premises liabilty law is known as “negligent security” and it allows a crime victim to obtain money damages (pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, long term medical care needs, etc.) from the owner and/or operator or any other person or entitly in control of that commercial establishment. As one Florida appellate court has explained:

A duty to protect an unknown plaintiff from the conduct of a third party may arise if the defendant is in actual or constructive control of:

(1) the instrumentality of the harm;
(2) the premises upon which the tort is committed; or
(3) the person who committed the tort.

Aguila v. Hilton, Inc., 878 So. 2d 392, 398 (Fla. 1st DCA, 2004)(citing Vic Potamkin Chevrolet, Inc. v. Horne, 505 So.2d 560, 562 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987); Daly v. Denny’s, Inc., 694 So.2d 775, 777 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997).)

What does this mean? What is Negligent Security in Florida? 

Essentially, under Florida negligent security law, a crime victim can obtain money damages from the defendant if he or she can provide sufficient evidence that there was (1) a dangerous condition on the property and (2) the defendant knew — or reasonably should have known about it but (3) he or she did not take reasonable steps to make the place safe or at least minimize the danger and (4) as a result, the plaintiff was hurt.

Read: Landlord Failed to Prevent a Crime; Can The Tenant Sue The Landlord For Injuries?

Negligent Security Claims in Florida Happen to Crime Victims In All Sorts of Places

Negligent security lawsuits always dovetail with a criminal case because the plaintiff in the negligent security lawsuit has been the victim of a crime. Crime victims who have suffered rape, assault, battery, armed robbery, robbery, murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, and other crimes of violence are those people who Florida law allows to file civil actions under negligent security law.

These crime victims can sue for damages that can cover not only items related to their physical injuries (medical expenses, long term care in the future, etc.) but also for their financial damages (lost wages, lost future earning capacity, etc.) as well as other harm they have suffered (e.g., pain and suffering).

Negligent security cases arise in a wide variety of scenarios here in Florida, but always where there is the scene of a violent crime such as:

  • Parking lots with inadequate lighting
  • Parking lots with inadequate surveillance
  • Elevators with inadequate surveillance
  • Stairwells with inadequate lighting
  • Places where the security cameras aren’t working
  • Places where there is a need for security cameras but they aren’t provided
  • Places where security guards are needed but not provided
  • Places where security guards aren’t around when needed
  • Hotels, motels, dorms, apartments, condos, or rental homes with unlocked doors
  • Hotels, motels, dorms, apartments, condos, or rental homes with non-functioning locks
  • Bank ATMs that are unsecured (lighting, cameras, attendants, etc.)

Who can be liable (these are just examples):

  1. Landlords
  2. Land owners
  3. Property managers
  4. Condominium associations
  5. Homeowners’ associations
  6. Store owners
  7. Shopping Mall Owners and Management Companies
  8. Security Alarm Companies
  9. Security Guard Companies
  10. Managers of restaurants, bars, lounges, strip clubs, fast food chains, gas stations, retail stores, shopping centers, malls
  11. Operators of schools, college dorms, university campuses, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living residences
  12. Owners of restaurants, bars, lounges, strip clubs, fast food chains, gas stations, retail stores, shopping centers, malls
  13. Organizations (e.g., school districts, chains, etc.) responsible for schools, college dorms, university campuses, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living residences

Read: Repair Claims By a Tenant; Can You Sue The Landlord For Your Injuries?

Florida Judges in Civil Courts Recognize Need for Crime Victims to Have Justice (That Criminal Courts Cannot Provide)

Florida judges recognize that places which invite people onto the property for profit (from a dorm room to a bar) have a duty to protect that invited guest from dangerous conditions on that property — and if the guest is a victim of violent crime, then the Florida courts have been willing to award damages in this unique kind of premises liability case in a variety of circumstances.

Since criminal court proceedings exist to punish the wrongdoer, these negligent security claims are very important because they are often the means by which the crime victim can obtain money damages for medical expenses, lost wages, etc. The criminal case does not provide compensation to the victim of a crime — it seeks justice against the person who has committed a crime as defined under Florida law.

Want to Know More?

Since 1982, Alan Sackrin has represented clients throughout Florida in recovering monetary damages for their personal injury claims. Alan is a Board Certified Civil Trial Expert that strives to maximize the amount of compensation his clients’ receive for their claim.  Alan brings a high-level of skill and knowledge to his personal injury cases and he offers a free initial consultation.


See: Sample Case Verdicts and Settlements


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