Black Friday is hands down the best time to shop for the holidays; the discounts are steep, the merchandise available is plentiful, and when looking to save money there’s no better day of the year to wake up early and get on line before the goods are gone. Unfortunately, the joy and excitement of the gift giving season can be quickly extinguished by acts of violence, assault, and crime.
Negligent Security is rampant during major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Black Friday sales, when consumers line up in droves to purchase that new video game, tv, or electronic drastically discounted can make anyone a prime target for becoming the victim of a crime. Criminals lie in wait for a lapse in security, or to assault an unsuspecting customer in a darkened parking lot. There’s no end to what some criminals may do in order to achieve their end goal: committing theft, assault, or worse.
This article intends to provide our esteemed readers with the information they need to know to keep themselves as safe as possible before heading out to grab those Black Friday deals––because no material purchase is worth the loss of a life!
What is Negligent Security?
To better understand what can be considered Negligent Security, and how to keep yourself and others out of harm’s way during the times of year when the crime rate skyrockets (Black Friday and much of the Christmas shopping season, for example), it’s important to first refresh our memory on what, exactly, Negligent Security is.
Justia defines the principle of “negligent security”, when used within Personal Injury law, as follows:
“It is the basis by which an individual injured by a third party tries to hold liable the owner or tenant of the property where a criminal injury is inflicted.”
Simply put, if someone becomes the victim of a violent crime, assault, or worse on someone else’s property or on business premises, it must be proven that the business and/or property owner took every necessary measure to ensure adequate security at their place of business or residential property.
If there is proof that business or property owner neglected to inform the employee (a retail worker, service worker, or delivery person) or visitor to the property that the area was known for crime and was not secure, as well as failed to secure it prior, they then become liable for any injuries sustained by those who visit their property and become victims of a crime.
Shop responsibily, shop safely
When shopping on Black Friday, many people choose to arrive at stores before the sun, and even the night before, and camp out in line in order to get the items highest up on their gift lists. This can be great fun for families who share in the joy of finally making a purchase they’ve saved all year for. However, there are drawbacks to this kind of “adventure” and we must look at the safety risks these “night before” shoppers can find themselves in should the business owner fail to protect his or her customers properly.
The risk of assault dramatically increases in the dark. Perps will lie in wait to attack unsuspecting victims, especially women and small children, and those who appear vulnerable or who “appear” to have money. Without adequate lighting, those waiting outside a store overnight may unknowingly be placed at-risk for this type of crime. Darkness makes it far too easy for criminals to get away after committing violent acts. Therefore, if a store does not provide adequate lighting for its’ customers who have chosen to wait out the night for a chance at a Playstation or a big screen tv, it’s best not to stick around. That new tv or Playstation is not worth the risk to life.
Adequate lighting is not the only thing that must be provided during high crime times of year such as Black Friday. Below we’ve listed several other measures that absolutely cannot be skipped. To keep customers safe, businesses must also utilize all of the following:
- Security cameras: in the event a crime does occur, because no one can 100% prevent criminals from committing their violent acts, it’s important that a business has adequate security footage to catch the perp in action. Being able to look back at clear, high definition security footage and allow the victim to point out the criminal can be invaluable to a Personal Injury case in which a victim became severely injured due to an assault.
- Police presence: in high crime areas, extra police presence must be a priority for businesses with thousands of customers in and out of their doors. Not only do police provide peace of mind for consumers as they shop, but they deter common criminals from committing assault, shooting, or stealing during the holiday season. Lack of police presence during busy Black Friday sales should be a red flag to get out of the store––and fast!
- Metal detectors: in stores with thousands of people going in and out, it’s far too easy for criminals to blend in and enter with a weapon. Not only can this type of crime end in tragedy, it becomes a serious liability to the business owner if they fail to do everything in their power to prevent a crime before it occurs. Metal detectors along with a strong police presence during Black Friday can strongly bolster the safety and security of both customers and store employees alike.
Giving it their best effort
According to Florida state law (§§ 812.173 and 812.174) there is protection from liability afforded to hardworking convenience store owners who do everything in their power to impart the necessary measures to secure their business and regularly ensure these measures are up to code. That means, if a crime occurs as customers are making a midnight stop for a forgotten Thanksgiving necessity or just dropping in to grab some midnight eggnog, the convenience store owner may not be liable. This, of course, would only take effect if it can be proven that the convenience store owner did in fact do everything availed to them to secure their business. Laziness is never an option when it comes to protecting the public.
A price to pay
Occasionally, business owners do fail in their responsibility to reasonably protect the public with any of the necessary security enforcements mentioned throughout this article. When this happens, and tragedy follows, they leave themselves at-risk for litigation being brought against them. Their negligence behavior and assumption that they weren’t required to protect their property and thereby the public, can have serious consequences.
The public should always be aware, alert, and attentive to anything that may be amiss during the holiday season. If something doesn’t feel right––leave right away! No material item, as we’ve stressed, is worth a life. Protecting oneself and ones’ family should be the top priority, and business owners must echo that sentiment to the fullest of their ability.