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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

Florida personal injury lawyers



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    What Happens When Businesses Ignore Crime?

    Businesses in Florida have a duty of care to provide safe passage for their customers, employees, and other visitors.

    Unfortunately, people frequenting businesses are exposed to crime threats that stem from a company’s or property owner’s willful negligence. 

    When businesses refuse to take security seriously, particularly in response to increasing crime threats, it puts people at risk. 

    Too often, people are injured in violent crimes in parking lots, stairwells, warehouses, and other places where criminals target the vulnerable. In severe cases, oversight and negligence lead to the death of victims. 

    Every year, thousands of Americans die or are hurt in crimes that could have been prevented with basic, common-sense security precautions. In addition, small security improvements could have discouraged or deterred criminals. 

    Expert negligent security lawyers work with victims and their families to fight for compensation after injuries or death related to negligent security. If you or someone you love was hurt on company property, working with an experienced legal team can hold businesses accountable for failing their duty of care. 

    The Basics of Negligent Security

    People assume they’ll be fine walking from their parked car into the mall or grocery store. Hotel guests want to feel comfortable visiting the pool and moving around the lobby. 

    Most businesses do a fine job of protecting the people on their properties. They install things like:

    • Cameras
    • Badge Readers
    • Fob readers/limited access
    • Gates
    • Locks
    • Alarms
    • security guards
    • & Lights

    They also hire security companies or guards to roam the property or hold static positions in front of doors and garage entrances. 

    However, not all businesses take security seriously enough. It may cost them to install reasonable security. When they don’t, it increases the chances of violent crime. 

    In addition, victims of sexual assault, mugging, and murder can file personal injury claims against responsible parties if security conditions fail or there is apparent negligence. 

    Negligent security is a subcategory of premises liability law. The law stipulates that property owners should know about potential dangers better than guests and customers. As a result, they’re responsible for taking reasonable actions to prevent future crimes. 

    What Are Reasonable Security Measures?

    It’s unrealistic to expect every business to have the same level of security. For example, you wouldn’t expect a grocery store or gas station to match the security measures often seen at banks, jewelry stores, or government facilities. 

    Each business should, however, assess local crime threats and recent trends to determine how they can provide a safe environment for guests and employees. Then, they should either manage property security themselves or hire someone who can. 

    Negligent security cases are built upon the premise that companies present idealistic images to potential customers to entice them to come and spend their money. Part of that is the expectation that visitors will be safe from harm or death. 

    No company will do well if they tell customers, “Please come shop! Just beware that there has recently been a slew of muggings in the area.” No one in their right mind would visit.

    Instead, companies are expected to install security measures that limit risk and prevent exposing customers, employees, and other visitors to harm. Visitors, naturally, assume they’ve got it handled. The businesses are in the best position to known of the risks in their area and better suited to prevent the crimes by using appropriate security measures.

    No security plan is a fail safe. Sometimes, criminals disregard even the strongest measures. The real issues come into play when companies and property owners fail to meet a justified standard of care to protect people. 

    Types of Negligent Security Cases

    Violent crime is always abhorrent. Things like rape, assault, and murder destroy careers, lives, and families. The victims of crime struggle to recover in the face of debilitating injuries, long-term disability, and wrongful death

    The team at Leighton Panoff Law has spent decades representing the victims of negligent security cases in Florida. Here’s a look at some of the types of cases they’ve worked on and the outcomes:

    • John Leighton won a $750,000 settlement for a convenience store clerk who was shot in an armed robbery. Mr. Leighton demonstrated evidence the store failed to comply with local minimum lighting standards and argued it contributed to the crime in North Miami. The store was located in a high-crime part of town and should have had better lighting. 
    • In a $500,000 verdict, Mr. Leighton helped the family of a Palm Beach County shooting victim win justice after he was shot by armed robbers fleeing the scene. The five robbers fired at the store clerk as he attempted to follow them after the theft. 
    • John Leighton obtained a $24,315,980 verdict for the family of officer Al Gordon. Officer Gordon was shot after taking $100 out of an ATM in Orlando. The judgment against those responsible for his death received a lot of attention in the media and shined a light on what are often poor security conditions around ATMs. 
    • John Leighton recovered $1,045,000 in a settlement for a woman who was sexually assaulted at a hotel because of inadequate security. The woman was working at a Key West hotel when she was tied up in a hotel room and sexually assaulted. Mr. Leighton negotiated the settlement with the hotel chain after a win in court. 
    • The legal team at Leighton Panoff Law won a $400,000 settlement for a 33-year-old woman who was attacked by a homeless man at night in a Florida office building. The man attempted to rape the victim, but she fought back. As a result, she suffered severe psychological injuries.

    The Benefits of Negligent Security Personal Injury Cases

    At first glance, it’s perhaps easy to assume that negligent security cases harm the local economy by making them pay large settlements or verdicts to injury victims. 

    However, legal experts know that successfully pursuing negligent security personal injury cases is a net benefit to all companies and potential victims. Here are some of the main positives of negligent security cases:

    • They hold irresponsible or negligent businesses accountable
    • These cases ensure a baseline security standard that reduces overall crime
    • Improvements in security benefit society as a whole because they deter future crime
    • They act as a warning to other negligent property owners
    • Successful cases demonstrate the protection of victims’ rights 
    • Negligent security cases blunt the impact of crime on the community’s reputation

    Litigation incentivizes businesses, management teams, and owners to take security seriously. Gone are the days when security was an oversight. Now, businesses must take action to prevent crime and protect their guests. 

    How Much Is a Negligent Security Case Worth?

    Negligent security cases are about more than money. The compensation your legal team pursues will impact your quality of life and help you recover after a crime. 

    For someone physically injured or traumatized by a sexual assault, attempted murder, mugging, or other violent crime, the damages pay for things like:

    • Lost income
    • Long-term disability
    • Physical and emotional therapy
    • Property damage
    • Medical care
    • Pain and suffering
    • Psychological damage

    While it’s easy to calculate objective costs of things like property damage to a car or a stolen cellphone, pursuing damages for pain or emotional scarring is complex. 

    The main thing any victim and their support network can do is find a capable negligent security personal injury lawyer to represent them. They’ll have years of experience pursuing similar cases and a proven track record of sizeable settlements. As a result, they’ll know what’s fair and how much you should ask for in your claim. 

    Here’s what to look for to find an experienced lawyer who can help:

    Investigate Law Firms

    You should never settle or hire a lawyer just because a friend or relative gives you their information. With your case and future on the line, you need an attorney who can win you as much as possible for what happened. 

    Spend some time researching the leading negligent security lawyers in your area. Find a firm with several successful judgments and verdicts representing victims in similar cases.

    You want to find a lawyer who has a great track record in handling and trying premises security cases, understands the complexities of developing and proving these cases, is a trauma centered attorney who is sensitive to victims’ issues, and is respected by opposing attorneys and insurance companies.

    Reputation Matters

    A lawyer’s reputation and experience will likely impact the outcome of your case. For example, a seasoned lawyer will almost always negotiate higher settlements for their clients. They’ve spent more time working against negligent property owners and businesses, so they know how to lead and respond to inadequate offers. The insurance companies will know that this lawyer knows what they are doing and has a history of winning in court.  These are important factors in choosing who will represent you.

    Look for Expertise

    Is the attorney you’re interviewing or hiring prominent in their field? They should have experience trying high-profile premises negligent security cases. For instance, John Leighton at Leighton Panoff Law in Florida is the Chairman of the American Association for Justice’s Inadequate Security Litigation Group. The group is part of a 20,000-member community, and Mr. Leighton teaches other lawyers across a dozen states how to try negligent security cases and negotiate settlements. He is also the Immediate Past President of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, the only organization of trial lawyers dedicated to representing victims of crime. Leighton Panoff Law’s Max Panoff is a leader in the organization as well and frequently teaches and lectures.  Mr. Leighton is the author of the two volume textbook Litigating Premises Security Cases, which is the leading treatise on how to investigate, prepare and try negligent security and sexual abuse cases.

    Discuss Your Case with Our Team

    Hold the right people accountable for injuries and wrongful death due to negligent security. 

    The team at Leighton Panoff Law in Florida sets the standard regarding all premises law-related cases. In addition, we offer no-obligation consultations to help you decide whether you have a case and what to do next. 

    Get the support you deserve for what happened. Victims of crimes because of inadequate security deserve better. We’re here to help you build a case and will aggressively pursue damages to help you and your family recover. 

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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