In 2011, after a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, a 45-year-old man named Brian Stow was beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. He sustained severe traumatic brain injuries, and he is now permanently disabled.
Stow’s assailants were sent to prison after they were convicted for felony assault and felony mayhem, but a civil court in California determined that Stow’s assailants were not the only parties liable for his injuries.
Because security had been negligent at the stadium, a California jury found that the Los Angeles Dodgers were partially liable for his injuries and ordered the Dodger organization to pay for Stow’s medical bills, lost income, and other damages. He was awarded $13.9 million.
WHAT ARE FLORIDA PROPERTY OWNERS RESPONSIBLE FOR?
Florida law is essentially the same as the law in California. Property owners are obligated to keep people reasonably secure and safe on their properties. If you are injured because the owner of a property failed to meet that obligation, you may be able to file a premises liability claim with a Orlando personal injury lawyer.
Almost any time of day – right now, for example – someone in Florida is being robbed or assaulted. A large number of these incidents – and injuries sustained by the victims – may not have occurred at all if a property owner had provided sufficient security.
In fact, good security is a feature that many businesses advertise; retailers highlight well-lit parking areas; condominium communities feature their security measures in sales brochures; and everyone feels safer at sports events and concerts if security is visible and abundant.
WHEN IS A PROPERTY OWNER NEGLIGENT?
Florida law does not require homeowners to hire security guards to protect their visitors, but it does mean that some type of security is necessary for garages, parking lots, and other privately-owned properties where criminal activity is likely to occur. Negligent security may include:
- lobbies, staircases, hallways, garages, and parking lots with poor lighting
- broken or defective locks
- inadequate security personnel and security cameras
- failure to install and maintain sprinklers, railings, and/or fire extinguishers
Premises liability claims may involve any location where the general public is invited, such as arenas and stadiums, shopping malls, apartment complexes, hotels and restaurants, theaters, amusement parks, and garages and parking areas.
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF THOSE INJURED ON PRIVATE PROPERTY?
If the owner of a property fails to keep the premises reasonably safe, the ramifications can be dangerous – and expensive for the owner. Just ask the L.A. Dodgers.
If someone is battered, mugged, assaulted sexually, or injured in some other way by a crime committed on another person’s property in central Florida, in most cases, the injury victim may pursue a premises liability claim with the help of a lawyer.
Even if a criminal suspect is never taken into custody, property owners may be held accountable if they fail to provide appropriate and reasonable security measures. Where crimes and injuries are most likely to happen, or where such incidents happen frequently, security is required.
WHERE ARE YOU SAFE?
Take Florida’s apartment complexes. With hundreds of people living at the same location, tenants may presume that they’re safe, but the reality is that there is no safety in numbers.
Hundreds of assaults and robberies occur each year at Florida’s residential apartment complexes. Isolated violent incidents can take place anywhere and at any time, but repeated incidents and injuries at a single location indicates a dangerous situation.
In 2015, for example, after a series of shootings and robberies, the Ocala Police Department took legal action against the Spring Manor Apartments. Ocala police obtained a court order forcing the owners to improve the lighting and to install facial recognition cameras.
WHAT MEASURES CAN PROPERTY OWNERS TAKE?
Security is in everyone’s interests, so most property owners do not have to be forced to take the right measures: keeping common areas reasonably free of possible hazards; providing sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and sufficient lighting; and if needed, providing security guards and cameras.
If you’re injured on private property in Florida because a property owner didn’t provide adequate security, you may be able to take legal action – with a premises liability claim and the right lawyer’s help – and be compensated for your injury-related medical expenses and other losses.
WHO CAN FILE A PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIM?
If you are assaulted, injured, or harmed in any other way on a private property in Florida, these factors will determine if you have standing to file – and to prevail with – a premises liability claim:
- The owner of the property did not meet his or her legal obligation. If inadequate lighting, insufficient warnings about potential hazards, or other security or safety issues led to an injury, you probably have standing to take legal action.
- You suffered injuries and/or sustained damages, and you are able to prove it.
- The owner’s negligence directly led to your injuries. For instance, if an owner did not install proper lighting in a garage or a parking area, and you were injured because you couldn’t see anyone moving toward you, you may have a strong premises liability claim.
LET YOUR ATTORNEY DO THE TALKING
If you are injured on private property because the security was negligent, you must have the advice of a good personal injury lawyer. Do not sign any insurance forms, do not make any statements, and do not accept a quick settlement offer from any insurance company.
An insurance company may try to persuade you to settle your claim for far less than it is actually worth. Don’t. Instead, let an Orlando premises liability lawyer do the talking on your behalf – while you do the recuperating and healing.
Premises liability laws are complicated in Florida. If you were injured while you were trespassing or while you were in an “off-limits” area, you may not qualify to file a premises liability claim.
THE CONTINGENT FEE SYSTEM GIVES EVERYONE A CHANCE FOR JUSTICE
Every case is different, so you should have a good premises liability attorney review the details of your case and explain how the law applies in your personal circumstances. Injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, so you pay no attorney’s fees unless your claim prevails.
If you have standing to file a premises liability claim, the right injury attorney will fight aggressively for the compensation you need and are entitled to under Florida law. Your first legal consultation with an injury attorney is free of charge and entails no obligation.
Check out one of our recent blogs here: Types of Compensation for a Personal Injury Claim in Florida