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April 26, 2009

Florida Crime Victims May Be Entitled To Money Damages For Injury Or Death Due To Inadequate Security

Florida crime victims who suffer serious injuries at business establishments such as shopping centers, malls, nightclubs, condominiums, apartment complexes, bars, banks, restaurants and even fast food establishments may have a claim for money damages for their personal injuries for negligence against the owner or management of the property. The main Broward County newspaper reports that Coconut Creek had one of the largest increases in crime with a 30 percent increase, while Fort Lauderdale also saw a 7 percent overall crime rate increase in 2008 with rapes, and robberies on the rise. A police spokesman said the increase was primarily in non-violent crimes, and attributed the increase to the bad economy. 

In an article entitled "America's Most Dangerous Cities", Forbes magazine ranked Miami Florida as third worst metropolitan area (not sure if "metropolitan area" means Dade County) in the country, with more than 950 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people. In positive news, it was reported that a Palm Beach County Grand Jury was instrumental in reducing gang violence and the number of deaths there, such as the incident in a Boynton Beach Mall that sent shoppers scrambling for cover in a gang related shooting there in 2007.The Sun-Sentinel reports that the number of murders in Palm Beach County in 2008 remained the same over the previous year, 96 murders.

Property owners have a duty pursuant to Florida law to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition, and to protect persons on their premises with adequate security precautions if they know, or should know, that crime is reasonably likely to occur. This can include some or all of the following measures: fencing in their property, providing security guards, providing surveillance, particularly in areas known to be high crime areas, or in locations that have a previous history of crimes, with violent crime history requiring the highest level of security.

If property owners don't take these measures, and they were on notice that they should have provided some or additional security, the owner and/or maintainer of the property may be held liable for all damages, including lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, disability, physical impairment, and inconvenience..

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