When we enter a business to shop, or arrive at a property for a work assignment, one of the first things of note is the presence security cameras and posted signage stating that a business or property is under 24-hour surveillance. As residents of some of the busiest cities in the United States, South Floridians have come to expect that property owners and businesses are taking the most effective measures to protect customers and employees from coming to harm as we work, shop, dine, and relax.
There are times, however, when crime does occur and a person becomes severely injured in a shooting, or worse, their life is lost? Who is liable when a visitor to a property or business becomes the victim of a violent crime? How can proprietors of a business make every effort to deter these events from occurring? The Law Resource Blog has those answers.
In South Florida, it seems everywhere we go while out in public, we’re becoming more and more at-risk for crime. No matter how well we protect ourselves, no one is 100% safe from becoming the victim of a criminal act perpetrated by someone with no regard for human life. There are ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones and reduce our risk of becoming the target of a criminal who has little regard for the law. One of the easiest ways to lower our risk of becoming the victim of violent crime is to avoid areas that aren’t well lit at night, and those that lack security surveillance and guard gates whenever possible. At times, it’s difficult to avoid such places when employment dictates a job is to be done in a high crime area.
We’ve established that something as simple as an inconspicuously installed security camera on the premises can deter common criminals from committing an act of violence such as a shooting or an armed robbery, potentially saving hundreds of lives in the long term. Most of the time upon the realization that a would-be crime scene is secured and monitored through video surveillance, the immediate threat of being caught red-handed is enough to send the criminal on their way. Those who commit crimes don’t want to be identified, arrested, and ultimately sent to prison.
Florida business owners know better
However, what happens in the event there are no security cameras on the premises to deter would-be criminals from committing a violent act undetected? Most likely, a property without adequate security measures in place, in area where crime is high, would be the prime property chosen by a criminal to commit a violent crime, knowing they have a low chance of being identified after the fact. Business owners are aware of how criminals looking to cause harm operate, and under normal circumstances will act reasonably to outfit their business with appropriate security measures to deter as much criminal activity as possible.
Specifically in neighborhoods or areas of a city with high crime rates, those who are intent on committing a crime will cause trouble in places known for their lax security. Business owners in areas of high crime must be even more diligent in their security measures than their peers who own businesses in more affluent areas.
Nonetheless, security measures affect every proprietor of a business, no matter what the crime rate in the area they choose to operate. It’s an individual business owner’s responsibility to protect the public, as well as their employees, from suffering the consequences of a shooting that takes place on an ill-equipped property. Should a business owner choose to neglect this responsibility, they will be held liable for their carelessness. If litigation is brought against them, it can be costly, especially if in the aftermath of a shooting the case gets in front of a judge. The public, as well as employees, should never be made to suffer the dangerous outcome of a careless business owner! Those consequences can range from accidental shootings, stabbings, and assaults, to homicides that result in multiple fatalities.
South Florida’s recent crime wave
South Florida has seen a wave of violent crime in recent months. Shooting after shooting in business after business, it doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Why is that? What can be done to prevent these violent acts from occurring, or lessening the amount of times they’re happening? South Florida has seen a wave of Negligent Security-related crime in recent months. In June, at a Northwest Miami-Dade Taco Bell restaurant a shooting claimed two innocent lives, and two families were faced with the tragic loss of their loved ones.
Crimes like the Taco Bell shooting and similar occurrences don’t have to happen; they can be easily prevented by responsible business owners who put adequate security measures in place. Taco Bell, among other fast-food chains, has seen a dangerous crime wave dating back to summer 2018. The reasons for the spike in violent acts can be almost entirely attributed to Negligent Security on the part of a franchise owner who fails to make necessary security changes to their property upon the realization that the crime rate is higher in the area in which they own their business.
While Taco Bell and other fast food chains have a responsibility to ensure their franchisees are aware of how to properly secure their business’ against violent crime in neighborhoods with crime rates that are higher than average, ultimately it will come down to the business owner to follow through on the training they receive. The installation of security cameras and motion detectors, and employing on-site security guards through a reputable security company is not where the responsibility ends. It’s the sole responsibility of the business owner, after the initial safety measures are put in place, to maintain those measures and not allow them to fall by the wayside. A damaged camera or ill-trained security guard cannot properly protect the premises.
Accident lawyers can offer tips on Negligent Security prevention
Shaked Law Firm has tried and won countless Negligent Security cases and obtained in the multi millions of dollars on behalf of our clients who by no fault of their own became involved in violent assaults, shootings, and homicides. We’ve witnessed acts of violence–shootings, stabbings, and assaults–that could’ve been prevented, had the business owner acted responsibly and secured their property. If a business owner chooses to neglect this responsibility, and chooses not to put the safety of their employees, of the public first, they put themselves at-risk for litigation. Business owners, take note, and follow these experienced tips for keeping patrons and employees as safe as possible:
- Security cameras: this bears repeating, no matter how many times its been discussed here on the Blog. Security cameras can mean the difference between a violent crime and a peaceful property. In the event a crime does occur, there’s a better chance of law enforcement catching the perp and sending them to jail where they belong if security cameras are installed and working properly.
- Armed security guards: this is one that a lot of business owners don’t want to think about because of the financial burden it may put upon them, but remember, litigation costs far more after becoming liable! Armed guards on a property in areas known for crime waves or consistently high crime is essential. Employing licensed and properly trained guards to patrol the building or business establishment can deter criminals from stepping foot on the premises. And, in the event of a crime, a skilled security guard may be able to stop the criminal in their tracks, allowing law enforcement to be called. An armed security guard can save lives!
- Lights: a well lit property is the safest property. Keeping a property well lit during nighttime hours can deter even the most experienced criminals. No one wants to be caught and hauled off to jail. Most criminals hoping to commit violent acts use the cover of darkness to prey on innocent victims such as employees on the property to install cable, or apartment residents coming home from work. Keeping the property well lit and maintaining the lighting regularly (checking fixtures and bulbs for problems) is another must for business owners and landlords alike.
- Gates or fencing: depending on the size of the business and the area in which it’s established, properly gating the premises can help protect visitors to the property from becoming a casualty of someone else’s violence. In areas known for higher crime, it’s imperative to properly fence or gate the business or property to make it as difficult as possible for criminals to attempt a break in. For residential property owners such as landlords and property managers, installing guard gates at the front of the property and upholding a consistent policy of checking the ID of every person who enters the building is a must.