When an act of sexual assault occurs on someone’s property, the owner of that property could be liable if it is found that they could have prevented it. Property owners in Florida have a legal duty to ensure that their locations are safe and provide adequate security. If you are considering bringing a case for negligent security following a sexual assault, you probably have many questions. Is it possible to settle your case out of court? Or will you need to go to trial?
Any legal action taken against a property owner is a third-party claim (unless the property owner was the assaulter), so you will not be able to bring a criminal case against them. However, you can seek monetary compensation through a personal injury claim, and most personal injury cases can be settled out of court, with some exceptions.
At The Law Place, we have over 75 years of experience in handling personal injury claims in Florida. We can offer some much-needed legal advice during a free consultation, and if you choose to hire us, we will support you through the entire process, working tirelessly to secure the compensation that you deserve. To speak to a member of our team, contact us at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What Is Negligent Security?
Negligent security occurs when a property or business owner fails to take reasonable precautions to keep their customers, clients, or guests safe. The State of Florida expects property owners to take basic security measures to prevent possible assaults, thefts, robberies, or property damage. If they fail to do so, they can be sued according to Florida’s premises liability laws.
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Who Do Florida’s Premises Liability Laws Apply To?
The premises liability laws in Florida apply to various locations that exist to serve the public. A negligent security lawsuit involves the negligence of any person or group of people who are seen to be responsible for the safety of those who use/enter the property. This may include:
- Apartment complex owner.
- Hotel/motel owner.
- Retail store manager/owner.
- Parking lot owner.
- Property manager.
- Security company whose inadequate security failed to protect a guest or resident.
In the event that you are sexually assaulted on public property, the owner may be held liable.
What Does a Negligent Security Lawsuit Do?
In a negligent security case, the investigation will focus on how the crime (in this case, the sexual assault) happened. It will not focus on trying to find abusers and bringing them to justice like in a criminal case. A negligent security lawsuit seeks to hold people liable for negligence that could have made the assault possible. It can also force business and property owners to make improvements to their property’s security to prevent similar instances. So not only can you be compensated for your own trauma, you can stop the same thing from happening to someone else in the future.
What Damages Can I Recover Through a Negligent Security Claim?
Floridas premises liability laws allow victims to seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. The amount of compensation you will receive will largely depend on the facts of your case and the circumstances of the sexual assault. With the help of a qualified Florida personal injury lawyer from our law firm, you could be awarded compensation for:
This includes any expenses that are connected with injuries sustained in the act of sexual assault. For example, emergency transportation to a hospital or other medical facility, hospital room and emergency room costs, physician’s fees, any necessary non-surgical and surgical treatment, prescription medication, counsiling, and rehabilitation therapy. Keep a record of all medical bills so you can be reimbursed for everything.
Future Medical Expenses
Following a serious sexual assault, it is possible that you will require future medical treatment and check-ups. A good lawyer will include this in the value of your claim so that you are not left out of pocket.
Victims of sexual abuse will more than likely be off work for an extended period of time. This might be because of physical injuries and also due to the trauma of the event. Your compensation should account for this missed time. It is a good idea to keep all of your pay stubs and any emails from your employer confirming that you were absent.
Future Loss of Earnings
Just because your trial has concluded doesn’t mean you won’t miss more time off work for appointments, injuries related to the event, or your mental health. You may have suffered long-term or permanent injuries due to the crime, and this could be something you can claim in a negligent security lawsuit.
Personal Property Damage
This includes replacement or repair costs for a long list of personal items that may have been involved in the crime. This may include mobile devices, bicycles, cameras, eyeglasses, laptops, and jewelry.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Victims can request compensation for their undue pain and suffering. This is a non-economic form of damages that seeks to compensate victims for the physical pain and mental trauma they have experienced rather than to reimburse them for monetary losses.
There are two types of pain and suffering: mental and physical.
- Physical pain and suffering – Includes the physical pain experienced during injury and recovery as well as the pain that the victim is likely to experience in the future. Victims may have even been left unable to engage in certain physical activities that they once enjoyed.
- Mental pain and suffering – This could be fear, insomnia, humiliation, depression, embarrassment, PTSD, anxiety, anger, and other emotions that the victim has experienced as a direct result of the accident and continues to experience.
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What to Do Following a Sexual Assult on Private Property
There are some key things you can do to support your negligent security lawsuit following an act of sexual assault. For example, look at your surroundings and take notes. Was the area well lit? Were any security guards present in the building? Were there any security cameras? Were doors left unlocked/open? However, we understand that when a traumatic event like this occurs, it can be difficult to think logically. The main thing for you to think about is filing a police report and seeking medical attention. If you get in touch with a lawyer from our law firm, we will get to work investigating your case immediately. We can take the stress of a personal injury lawsuit away and allow you to concentrate on your recovery.
The Burden of Proof in a Florida Negligent Security Case
In any personal injury case, the evidence will need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is directly responsible for the victim’s injuries and damages.
In cases of negligent security, the focus will be on how the legal requirements for businesses and public locations apply to the property owner, which will depend on the type of property they own and its destination. A sexual assault victim will be required to prove that the property owner failed to adequately protect them from harm or risk and that the defendant’s property did not meet the established health and safety standards set forth by Florida law.
The sexual assault victim must then prove that they suffered injury or loss as a direct result of the property owner’s negligence. It needs to be clearly demonstrated that they were assaulted due to the property owner’s negligence.
Evidence in a Negligent Security Case
In order to prove their case, victims and their legal team can present photographs or videos of the property that show security issues. They can also use witness testimony from anyone who can support the claim that the property owner was negligent and failed to rectify the security issues that led to the event. The police report that documents their crime and any reports regarding other crimes that occurred on the property will also be crucial to the case.
The victim can also present evidence to show that the property owner’s failure to provide sufficient security has resulted in similar instances of sexual assault or other crimes in the past. If it is shown that they continued to neglect security issues, it can be argued that the sexual assault was foreseeable and thus preventable. A qualified premises liability lawyer can gather this evidence on your behalf and present it to court to support your claim.
The Required Elements
In Florida, the below elements are required to prove negligent security:
- You were on the premises lawfully.
- The premises had inadequate security measures.
- The property owner could reasonably foresee the criminal activity you suffered.
- You suffered some form of harm as a result of their negligence.
Foreseeable risk is key to a negligent security case. For them to be found guilty of negligent security, a property owner must have reasonably foreseen the crime. In general, property owners do not have a legal duty to stop any criminal behavior committed by a third person. However, they are expected to anticipate the criminal activity and prevent it in any way they can.
When examining this element, courts will carefully consider the criminal offense in question, how many times this offense or any other criminal offenses took place, when they took place, and if they took place on or near the property. If there are reports of multiple incidents on the property, especially if they are similar crimes to the ones at issue, this can strengthen your case.
A Florida negligent security lawyer will be required to prove this foreseeable risk. To do this, they will collect information about any prior crimes on (or near) the property. This includes police reports and reports from media outlets (TV, internet, social media, radio, newspapers). This kind of evidence is usually strong enough to show that the landowner knew or should have known about other crimes.
During the investigation, your personal injury attorney may request the following information, which could be relevant to foreseeability:
- Prior personal injury claims filed against the property owner.
- Any insurance claims made by the property owner involving criminal acts.
- Police reports of thefts, break-ins, and other crimes made by the property owner.
- Posts on social media relating to criminal activity or comments about inadequate security measures.
Criminals are known to take advantage of inadequate security and other conditions on a property that can conceal their presence and criminal activities. All properties that members of the public are permitted to enter are required by law to have adequate security.
Not all property and its purpose are the same, so the measures that each property or business owner is expected to take will differ. For example, parking lots are expected to have adequate lighting, security guards, and working security cameras. If you were sexually assaulted in a parking area, you might sue on the grounds of a lack of security. Bars and clubs, especially those with a history of fights and other criminal behavior, might require bouncers. Other conditions which may show that a property owner is guilty of negligent security include:
- Broken windows.
- Unlocked doors/broken locks at places where the public does not usually enter.
- Lack of properly operating security cameras.
- Inadequate lighting.
- Lack of security guards.
When Should I Bring a Negligent Security Claim in Florida?
According to Florida’s statute of limitations, as found in Florida Statute 768.28, any person who wishes to file a negligent security lawsuit must do so within four years. The clock will usually start running from the date of the sexual assault. In some rare cases, you may be permitted to file a claim even after the statute of limitations has expired. However, if you file too late, it is likely that you will not be able to receive any compensation for your injuries.
It is also important to consider that if you are filing a claim against a government entity, you will be required to file a notice of claim before you can litigate. In most cases, you will need to file the notice within a relatively short time frame, sometimes 90 days or less, depending on where you live.
This is why it is a good idea to speak to a negligent security lawyer who can tell you whether you can still file a claim and how the statute of limitations applies in your individual case. Timely action can also be crucial for your case. The fresher the evidence is, the better chance you have at securing a reasonable
What Is the Difference Between Settling in and Out of Court?
All property owners and businesses in Florida should have insurance that covers them in the event of accidents or incidents that occur on their property. If it is found that their negligence led to an assault or injury, they could be held liable for the costs. As a victim of a sexual assault, you will be able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim, and this usually means you will deal with the property’s insurance company.
If the insurance company offers you a fair compensation settlement, you may not need to go to court. An experienced lawyer can negotiate this settlement on your behalf and tell you if the offer is fair. If the insurance company gives you a lowball offer, a lawyer can negotiate for a better offer.
If a settlement can’t be reached, a lawyer from our law firm will be prepared to take your case to court and fight for the compensation that you deserve.
How Does the Negotiation and Settlement Process Work?
Insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying out much on personal injury claims, even when it comes to sexual assault cases. Even if you have suffered a terrible assault, they will be reluctant to admit any responsibility. They will likely attempt to challenge the claim that their client (the property owner) could have prevented the crime.
A qualified sexual assault lawyer knows how to handle these companies. They can use their skills to negotiate with them and look closely at the facts of your case to determine if an offer is worth taking. They can investigate your case, so there is enough evidence to support your claim and ensure that you are getting a settlement that reflects the damages that come with a serious sexual assault.
During the negotiations process, you can expect endless back and forth phone calls, emails, and paperwork. A negligent security lawyer from our law firm can take this on for you so that you can focus on your recovery. Call us for a free consultation today to find out more.
How Do I Know If It Is Worth Taking My Negligent Security Case to Court?
There are pros and cons to going to court. Following a sexual assault, victims usually prefer to avoid re-living the event months later in a courtroom. They may also want the situation dealt with quickly so they can move on. However, victims of serious sexual assault cases are often left with severe emotional and physical and damages. Any settlement that is offered to you by the insurance company might not be enough.
By taking your negligent security case to court, you can seek higher compensation. However, there is more at stake, and for this reason, before making a decision, it’s best to speak to an experienced lawyer. Call The Law Place today for a free consultation.
Will My Negligent Security Sexual Assault Case Settle Out of Court?
It is certainly possible to settle your negligent security sexual assault case out of court. You can do this by negotiating with the insurance company of the property owner. However, without the help of the right lawyer, it is impossible to know whether you are getting a good settlement. During a free case evaluation with one of our personal injury lawyers, we can tell you if your case has a high chance of being settled out of court.
Call The Law Place for a Free Consultation
If you have been sexually assaulted on someone else’s property in Florida, it is in your best interest to speak to a qualified attorney as soon as possible. If the property owner was negligent in any way, you can sue them for negligent security and recover money for your damages.
An attorney from The Law Place with experience handling negligent security claims in Florida can file a claim on your behalf. We will investigate your case thoroughly and work closely with insurance companies to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. If a reasonable offer is not made, our law firm will be prepared to take your negligent security case to court.
You can find more information regarding our recent verdicts and settlements on our website or during your free consultation. Don’t hesitate, contact us today at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.