Murder Incidents and Negligent Security
Without question, Florida is one of the most beautiful geographic areas in the entire country, if not the world. There are beautiful sandy beaches, warm ocean waters and breathtaking tropical sunsets. Unfortunately, Florida also has one of the highest murder and crime rates in the country.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in a recent year of crime statistics:
- 1,040 murders in Florida
- 767 murders by firearms in Florida
- 217 murders in Miami-Dade County
- 176 murders by firearms in Miami-Dade County
- 93,408 violent crimes in Florida
- 568,964 property crimes in Florida
Note that these statistics represent only the number of reported incidents, an indication there were many more murders, violent crimes and property crimes.
Are Property Owners Liable for Murders Resulting from Negligent Security?
Property owners, property management companies, landlords, business owners and others who own, manage and/or secure property have a duty to ensure that the property is reasonably safe for residents, guests, invitees and others. The primary reason for this is because the owner has control over their property.
This may include the following types of property:
- Residential property, including apartment complexes, condominiums, homes, home associations and others
- Business property
- Hotels, motels
- Trailer parks
- Camping grounds
- Train stations, Metrorail, etc.
- Office buildings
- Stadiums and arenas
- Bars, nightclubs
- Tourist attractions
- Parking lots – whether directly on the main property or in an adjacent location
- Schools, colleges, universities
- Medical centers, hospitals
- Convenience stores – governed by Florida Statute 812.173, “Convenience Business Security”
- Gas stations
What Precautions Can Be Made by the Property Owner to Prevent Murders and Crime?
Property owners can prevent and dissuade crime by hiring qualified security companies and personnel to guard the property and the people who are on the property. Additionally, the property itself should be safely maintained so that intruders cannot access the property.
There are a multitude of protective measures that can be instituted, including the following essential precautions:
- Ensure that the perimeter of the property is protected by fences, gates or other structures
- Make sure that all entrances, gates and doors are properly locked and that the locks are in working order
- Security companies must conduct proper background checks for their security personnel
- Security personnel must be properly trained
- A security plan should be established, with a security office and a functioning communication system
- The property should be patrolled by security guards on foot and/or in vehicles
- Security cameras should view all areas of the property
- Security videos should be made and saved for reference if a crime should occur
- Bright security lights are essential, particularly in open areas such as parking lots
What Are Some of the Factors that May be Involved in a Negligent Security Murder Lawsuit?
A case of this nature will inevitably require extensive research. Police and security records will be scoured to determine if there were previous murders, violent crimes or gunshots on the property or nearby. If so, was the property owner or manager aware of the previous incidents? If there were previous incidents, were any efforts made to prevent future similar incidents? Again, was there adequate security on the premises?
Were the locks, fences and gates in working order? Did the security cameras work? Were the security guards diligent in their duties? Did they contact and notify the police when previous incidents occurred? Were there other crimes, assaults, robberies or nefarious activities on the premises that the owner or manager should have been aware of?
- Was it reasonably foreseeable that a murder or other crime would or could occur on the premises?
- Should the property owner or manager have been aware of this?
- Or was it simply ignored?
- Did the owner or manager have knowledge of a third party’s intentions to commit a crime, violent or otherwise?
Most importantly, did the owner and/or property manager have actual or constructive knowledge that a crime was likely to be committed? For example, if other murders occurred on the premises and there was a presence of dangerous individuals, were any positive actions taken to protect those who were lawfully on the premises?
Was a Loved One Murdered on Private or Public Property as a Result of Negligent Security?
If a loved one such as a child, spouse or parent was murdered on private or public property and you believe it was a result of negligent security, the legal surviving heirs may potentially pursue compensatory damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit are Recoverable by the Legal Heirs and the Decedent’s Estate
Compensatory damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are governed by Florida Statute Section 768.21 and fall into two categories. First, the lawful heirs, also known as survivors, may recover damages. Generally this refers to the spouse, children and parents of the deceased as well as dependent parties. Briefly, these may include lost support and services, loss of companionship and protection, mental pain and suffering, loss of companionship, instruction and guidance, reimbursement for medical and funeral expenses and other. Secondly, the estate of the deceased victim may recover damages for lost earnings, medical and funeral expenses, loss of net accumulations of an estate, medical or funeral expenses and other.
You can reach Miami Personal Injury Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].