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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Identifying And Screening Strong Negligent Premises Security Cases

The field of inadequate security litigation grew substantially over the past two decades. This is particularly true in Florida, where violent high-crime rates and growth in the field of premises liability accounts for a large portion of inadequate security litigation.

Attorney John Leighton explains that only Texas and New York surpass the State of Florida in inadequate security claims in, ‘Negligent Premises Security: Liability & Litigation,’ published in the South Florida Legal Guide. Although inadequate premises security cases are often difficult and expensive to litigate, these types of cases play a primary role in creating deterrence and creating incentives for businesses to provide adequate security.

It is important that business owners, employers, property owners, and those tasked with security at public venues understand and abide by all applicable laws, particularly those concerned with duty and foreseeability. Those charged with management and ownership of a business or particular premise are in a much better position to have knowledge of any potential dangers of a property than a customer, resident, or visitor.

Negligent security litigation includes recovery for injuries that occur with criminal assaults, sexual assaults, robberies, and other attacks that happen because of inadequate security such as insufficient or absent lighting, poor design of the premises, deficient security, and other factors. The owner and manager of a business or premises where the crime occurs potentially faces charges, as well as the criminal.

Serious injuries or deaths occur in many negligent premises security cases. The cases are complex, time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, there needs to be a determination of very significant damages when screening the case. When screening the case, it is best to work backwards. Mr. Leighton points out that after initially assessing damages to ensure that they justify investments of time and money, try to obtain copies of relevant insurance policies.

Use the ‘dry cleaner test’ to assess if the case makes sense. Ask yourself, “Can I explain to the dry cleaner what happened to this client in a reasonable way?” If not, consider rethinking the case.

Review police reports, crime grids and service calls surrounding the specific property. Engage the services of experts in criminology, security and investigations wherever relevant. Successful negligent premises security cases often lead to equitable compensation for clients and positive changes within society.

Attorney John Leighton is a nationally recognized expert in negligent security litigation and violent crime. He litigated and tried negligent premises security cases for more than 30 years, is the author of Litigating Premises Security Cases, and is the President-elect of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.

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