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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Negligent security settlements in Orlando

Property owners have a responsibility to maintain their property and keep people on it safe. Whether you’re visiting a store or swimming in a hotel pool, there needs to be enough security that’s reasonable and stops people from getting hurt.

Unfortunately, people get hurt on someone else’s property all of the time. When someone’s injuries happen as a result of poor security — negligent security — you need an attorney who will aggressively pursue a negligent security settlement.

Negligent security settlements can help cover medical expenses required to treat injuries, missed time from work, and things like pain and suffering.

If you or someone you know was hurt because a property owner didn’t ensure property security on site, then you could be eligible for a negligent security settlement.

Let’s take a look at some common issues around negligent security settlements and what you need to know after you’ve been hurt.

What Is Negligent Security?

Negligent security is part of premises liability law that deals specifically with security measures.

For example, if you’re a victim of a crime on someone else’s property and reasonable security measures weren’t in place, then you probably have a case to pursue.

Let say, for instance, that you rent an apartment in a multi-family complex. If someone breaks into your apartment and injures, sexually assaults, or kills someone, you need a negligent security lawyer.

What happens if, when gathering evidence in your case, you discover that the security guard failed to make their rounds on time? What if the CCTV cameras were out of order for months? What if the access gate was broken and anyone could enter the property?  Or if the locks or sliding glass doors were substandard and easily broken?  That’s when negligent security settlements come in.

Negligent security can also apply to situations like:

  • Poor Indoor or Outdoor Lighting
  • Active Shooter Situations
  • Bar Fights
  • Road Rage Incidents in Parking Lots
  • Lack of security at an apartment, school, hotel or shopping center
  • Broken Locks on Doors and Windows
  • Inadequate key control or access control at a hotel
  • Poor Maintenance that Led to a Security Incident

These are just some examples of where negligent security can happen. Anytime you are on someone else’s property, there is a general expectation that you will be safe and can go about your business.

Things like active shooters in businesses or fights that break out in malls get way more attention online, but negligent security settlements cover a wide spectrum of incidents.

How Do You Know When to Pursue Negligent Security Settlements?

The first thing you should do if you or someone close to you is hurt on someone else’s property is, of course, to get any necessary medical attention.

We know that the first thing that goes through your mind after you are seriously injured is not where you can find the nearest attorney.

However, after making sure you or whoever’s hurt is doing alright, talking to an attorney should be very high on your list. They can listen to the circumstances around what happened and asked questions to get to the bottom of whether you have a legitimate case.

Here’s what they’ll look for:

1. Harm Occurred

The whole point of negligent security settlements is to serve as compensation for any harm and losses that have occurred. Additionally, the bringing of these cases serves to encourage businesses and property owners to have reasonable security and use care in protecting people on their property.  Otherwise why would they spend the money and effort to do anything?

There’s little chance of a case without any injuries or harm. You can’t say, “I need compensatory damages because of what could have happened.” That doesn’t fly.

You have to demonstrate that your injuries stemmed (either physical or mental) from the property’s lack of security or security measures.

A good lawyer can talk to you about how you can document the harm and what medical resources you need to show your injuries.

2. The Property Owner Had a Duty of Care

Duty of care is legalese for when someone has a responsibility (or a duty) to ensure basic things are in place for anyone on their property, who uses their product, checks into their facility, etc.

For there to be a negligent security case, harm must occur, and that person must be harmed or injured (or killed) when someone else (the property owner) had a duty of care.

Duty of care can include things like making sure the windows and doors lock and work correctly. If you’re in a higher-risk facility, like a bank or mall or apartment complex, perhaps the duty of care includes security measures like cameras or a security guard.

If a property or business owner has a duty of care, and someone gets hurt because they didn’t live up to that duty of care, then that’s when negligent security settlements happen.

The baseline with duty of care is qualitative. It’s impossible to say that every bank, hotel, mall, apartment or any other property has to have a specific set of security measures in place. Each one may be different, even if there are generally accepted standards in each industry.

This is where having a qualified, experienced attorney becomes so valuable. They will base whether there is a case of negligent security at hand on similar situations in the past, the conditions, the law that applies to the location where it occurred, industry standards, codes and statutes, and the specific facts.

 3. There Was a Breach of Duty of Care

Once you establish that a property owner, like the owner of a retail store, theme park or hotel, had a duty of care, you will need to prove a breach of that duty exists.

Further, in negligent security cases, you need to show that the breach of duty of care is directly related to the lack of security or other factors related to negligent security.

Examples of this can include:

  • Not hiring adequate security staff
  • Not enough properly trained security staff on site
  • Misrepresenting security qualifications
  • Not enough cameras on premises
  • Malfunctioning security equipment (gates, doors, locks, etc.)
  • Failing to follow established or accepted procedures

4. Determining Causation

The last thing you need to prove in a negligent security case is that the breach of the duty (failure to act reasonably) led to your injuries.

The defendant’s, or the property owner’s, breach of their duty of care must be directly responsible for your injuries. They have to contribute to any injuries or pain and suffering related to an accident or security incident.  That doesn’t mean that THEY committed the criminal act, but instead you need to prove that because of their negligence the criminal act was allowed to happen.

An example would be where a hotel allows someone who is not staying there to access a guest room floor or a room, and that person commits a sexual assault or violent crime against the hotel guest.  There are well-known standards for the hospitality industry that requires hotels to take steps to prevent that.  This is one reason why hotels use key cards instead of metal keys, so that after each guest the card is changed and cannot be used again.  But what if the hotel gives someone a key card who says that they left their card in their room and are locked out? They hotel must get identification and confirm that the person is in fact the guest.  If they don’t they have allowed a trespasser/criminal access to a guest room.

The Negligent Security Settlements Process

Experience is often the most important trait of an attorney in a negligent security case.

Some cases are simple. Others are very complex. Experienced lawyers know how to deal with minute details that make the difference in settlement negotiations and court.

Depending on your case, you can settle and start signing papers in weeks or months. Other times, the case and negotiations may take years to resolve.

What you need is a legal team behind you with a track record of success in negligent security cases to get the job done right. They will present solutions no matter how complicated the case, how large the opponent you’re facing, and how long things take.

Here are some things an expert settlements lawyer can help with:

Step 1 – They’ll Help You Establish Whether You Have a Case

A lot of people, even people who experience severe injuries on someone else’s property, are hesitant to pursue legal damages because the process can be opaque.

The right lawyer will listen to what happened, ask questions to clarify certain aspects of the event, and explain what they think.

You can find out in a matter of minutes whether pursuing legal action is worth your while.

Step 2 – They’ll Help You Make a Plan

Gathering evidence and documenting your injuries are very important when conducting negotiations or presenting your case in court.

Experienced negligent security lawyers will have the resources you need to document your injuries and present your story in the most effective way possible.

Step 3 – They’ll Manage Communications

A lawyer handles all communications after an incident. There is the property owner, insurance companies, the police, and other parties that become overwhelming.

Your legal team can manage official communications and do so in a way that solidifies your case.

They’ll help you avoid making mistakes in what you say, for example, to insurance companies over the phone. These companies usually try to get you to give conflicting stories or dismiss the extent of your injuries to avoid paying significant damages.

Step 4 – They’ll Know What a Good Settlement Amount Is

If you’re having trouble paying medical bills, it’s tempting when a company or a property owner offers you thousands of dollars in a settlement.

What you don’t know, though, is whether that offer is fair.

A good lawyer will know what counts as a fair offer and negotiate higher settlement amounts to cover your needs.

Step 5 – They Show That You Mean Business

Hiring a lawyer sends a signal. Even better, a seasoned negligent security attorney shows whoever you’re dealing with that you mean business.

It’s almost like having a cheat code that shortcuts you to the settlement table because their reputation precedes them.

Hire an attorney with experience dealing with similar cases to yours and one who has successfully negotiated substantial settlements for their clients.  There is no substitute for experience in a skilled negligent security attorney. Make sure when you are speaking with an attorney that they are highly experienced in the field, have actually tried negligent security cases in court (few have) and are well-regarded by their peers. Check to see whether the lawyers are board certified trial lawyers and whether they are members of the organizations within the field of law the deal with negligent security cases.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions — your case will depend on it.

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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