Shooting Incidents and Negligent Security
Unfortunately, Florida has one of the highest violent crime and shooting rates in the country. Shooting incidents are rampant in Miami, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and throughout the state. According to data reported in USA Today, Florida ranked fifth highest in the nation, with 540.5 violent crimes per 100,000 people. There were more than 16 mass shootings in Florida at the time of the report in one half-year alone. Another report indicates there are an estimated 250-280 million firearms in the US – many of which are illegal and make their way to Florida.
Are You Safe on Your Own Property and on Property You Visit?
The question naturally arises: are you safe in your apartment or condominium, at the mall, at the store, at the gas station, at your school, at your favorite nightclub or restaurant? Are you safe anywhere? If you are shot by an assailant or struck by a stray bullet, who would be liable for your hospital and medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other related costs and expenses?
Property Owners Have a Duty to Keep Their Property Safe
Because a property owner has control over their property, they have a duty to take reasonable precautions to prevent foreseeable crime, including shooting incidents. Property owners have a duty to make their property safe for residents, guests, invitees and others on the property.
Common Property Safety Precautions
Security precautions may include, but certainly are not limited to the following:
- Security guards on the premises at all times of day and night
- Security guards must be properly vetted and trained
- Security office or booth with a security plan in place
- Security vehicles patrolling the property
- Security cameras throughout the property
- Security cameras must properly record activities on the property and the recordings must be properly saved and cataloged for future reference
- Security personnel must have a functioning communication system
- Locked gates, fences and entryways must be in proper working order
- Bright lights should be installed in parking lots, public areas, stairways and throughout the property
- Signs that prohibit trespassing and loitering should be installed and visible
- Many other preventative measures may apply. For example, convenience stores have specific statutory requirements as per Florida Statute 812.173, “Convenience Business Security”
- Restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other venues must have security personnel trained to deal with intoxicated patrons
- Business establishments, office buildings, schools, stadiums, arenas, public and private property must all comply with appropriate security precautions
Preventing Shooting Incidents and Foreseeable Crime
Some of the questions that may be relevant in proving liability on the part of the property owner:
- Is the property or venue in a high crime area?
- Were there shootings in or on the property previously?
- Were there shootings in the surrounding streets or blocks recently or in the past?
- Is it reasonable to assume that a shooting may occur again if there were shootings before?
- Are there security breaches such as missing or broken locks, fences and gates?
- Have gunshots been heard recently or in the past?
- Are there police reports of shootings, violence, assaults, robberies and other crime on or near the property?
- Did the property owner have an opportunity to correct a dangerous situation but failed to do so?
- Did the property owner know or have reason to know that a shooting incident would or could occur but failed to do anything to prevent it?
Compensatory Damages Pertaining to Shooting Incidents and Negligent Security
If you were injured in a shooting incident in which the property owner may be fully or partially responsible, the following types of compensatory damages may potentially be pursued:
- Past and future medical expenses arising from the incident. Sadly, many shooting incidents result in the most severe injuries, including brain injuries, paralysis and loss of independence. Medical care may be required for the remainder of the victim’s life and costs often run into millions of dollars.
- Lost income and future lost income – earnings and earning potential are of extreme importance.
- Pain and suffering – victims of shootings often experience severe pain and suffering as well as mental and emotional anguish and trauma.
- If the victim loses his or her life, the lawful surviving heirs may pursue compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation may be pursued on behalf of the victim as well as the survivors.
- Funeral and burial expenses – the families of deceased victims may recover these costs.
- Other damages – in some instances where the conduct was extreme and egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer. Shooting incidents often fall in this category.
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].