Florida property owners have a responsibility to people invited onto their premises, either as guests or for a business purpose, to keep the property reasonably safe and warn them of known hazards. People often think of a store owner’s duty to clean up spills so that customers will not slip and fall, or a building owner’s responsibility to fix broken steps. Yet property owners’ responsibilities go beyond structural and basic maintenance issues in some cases, particularly where the premises present risks of trespass. A property owner could be liable for injuries caused by a violent crime perpetrated by a trespasser. In limited cases, a property owner could be liable to a trespasser, such as if a child was injured in an unsecured swimming pool. A Florida injury attorney can help you determine the type of liability and fight to recover damages for injuries to you and your loved ones.
Security Against Criminal Acts by Trespassers
A property owner’s first responsibility is to protect people invited onto the property, such as customers, colleagues, guests, or workers. Responsibility for security commonly applies to commercial properties with a foreseeable risk of crime: hotels or motels, shopping areas, apartment buildings, parking lots and garages. A property owner must take reasonable steps to make customers and other visitors safe from theft, robbery, assault, or other injury caused by a violent crime. This may be accomplished through efforts to physically exclude trespassers or through measures meant to dissuade people from committing violent acts. Security measures may include:
- Walls or fences with limited entry points limited to people with a key or code;
- Adequate lighting in outdoor areas, especially parking lots;
- Security cameras to monitor parking lots, elevators, and other secluded areas;
- Maintenance of shrubbery that might conceal trespassers;
- Private security guards at entrances and conducting routine patrols; or
- Notice to local law enforcement to request patrols.
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
In some situations, a property owner owes a duty of care to trespassers. This happens when a property owner either knows, or has reason to know, that something on the property is likely to attract children. If such an attractive nuisance has, in fact, attracted children in the past, the property owner must take steps to keep such trespassers out. This is known as the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, where a hazard on a property presents a particular risk to children who may be attracted to it. It applies where the children are not old enough to fully appreciate the danger, and where the risk to possible young trespassers is greater than the “attractive nuisance’s” benefit to the property owner. Swimming pools are a common attractive nuisance. Construction sites present numerous attractions for mischievous children. Security measures to protect “attractive nuisances” may include:
- Signs or notices warning of the dangerous equipment or condition, although by themselves these might only encourage some children; or
- Fencing that is tall and secure enough to keep children out.
The Deerfield Beach injury attorneys at Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. represent people in Palm Beach and Broward County who have been injured because of negligent security on someone’s property. Contact the firm through this website, or by calling our toll-free number at 954-428-9333 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.