Imagine going to a business property, like a gas station or convenience store. You feel uneasy because, well, it’s a gas station or a convenience store. Nevertheless, you have to make the stop to get some fuel and/or some other provisions. While you’re on the premises, you get violently attacked, and your life is forever altered. What happens now, and what can you do?

The initial thought is that the criminal must get punished. Then, you find out the police caught the criminal, and you feel better because, well, that person is no longer out there hurting people. However, you have tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and your family is suffering financially because of the attack.

crime scene and proving negligent security in FloridaThen, imagine that you find out the property had a long history of various criminal activities. Furthermore, you find out that there were no security measures in place on the property to protect people. Maybe you also find out that other people have been hurt or killed on the property. This has to be negligence, right? 

So, you do a little research, and you find out that you may have a negligent security case. Now, you’re wondering whether you have a “good” case or not. Keep reading because, in this article, we’ll talk more about what you need to prove to bring a successful negligent security claim in Florida.

Our negligent security attorneys are always happy to give you a free consultation. All you have to do is give us a call at (321) LAWSUIT or fill out a contact form on our website. We take inadequate security cases, across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Overview of Florida Negligent Security

Infographic on the 5 Key Elements and Issues in Florida Negligent Security CasesLet’s start out with the basics: What is negligent security? Negligent security is a type of premises liability law that allows victims to recover damages for personal injury and wrongful death when a business failed to provide adequate security. Under Florida law, businesses and property owners owe a duty of care to patrons and guests on the property. When a property owner or manager fails to implement adequate security measures, and then someone lawfully on the property gets hurt, the victim may have a viable negligent security claim.

Things You Need to Prove in Successful Negligent Security Case

In any case based on negligence, the elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages come into play. These elements are part of negligent security claims as well. However, in negligent security cases, there is another issue that plays a major role in determining liability, and that issue is one of “foreseeability.” 

We’ll address each element of a negligent security claim below and explain what each element means.

Duty of Care

Generally speaking, landowners and business proprietors owe a duty to exercise ordinary care to guard invitees and licensees against unreasonable risks of harm. An “invitee” is typically a person that comes on the property for the proprietor’s benefit, like someone who does business with the proprietor. A “licensee” is usually thought of as someone who is invited onto the property. The other label for a person on a business property is a “trespasser,” and this is someone who doesn’t have the legal right to be on the premises. 

Accordingly, whether a proprietor owes a duty of care to a particular person will depend on whether that person was an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. However, the issue of foreseeability will also affect this duty of care. 

How Do You Prove the Proprietor Owed the Victim a Duty of Care?

As we talked about, a plaintiff needs to be able to prove he or she was an invitee or a licensee. A plaintiff can show this by simply showing they were legally on the property and not trespassing. 


Courts look at the reasonable foreseeability of third-party criminal conduct when analyzing the proprietor’s duty to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises safe for guests and visitors. This analysis is mostly focused on the element of duty. The foreseeability of criminal acts on the property informs whether the business or landowner has a duty to keep guests and visitors safe from third-party criminal conduct. This allows us to distill the issue of foreseeability into some very simple terms:

  • If criminal acts on the property are foreseeable, the proprietor has a duty to exercise ordinary care to guard guests and visitors against criminal acts.
  • If the proprietor has no reason to anticipate criminal acts on the property, the proprietor doesn’t have a duty to exercise ordinary care in guarding against such criminal acts. 

Whether a third-party criminal attack was “foreseeable” or “reasonably foreseeable” is generally a question for the jury. Several factual questions are important here:

  • What types of crimes previously occurred on the property or in the area?
  • Where and when did those crimes happen?
  • Did the proprietor know about the prior crimes, and did that knowledge give the proprietor a reason to anticipate the attack that occurred?

How Do You Prove Foreseeability?

A plaintiff can generally establish foreseeability by providing some sort of evidence that tends to show a history of criminal activity on the property. This will usually involve things like 911 call logs, crime data, incident reports, and other evidence of criminal activity on the property or in the surrounding areas.

Breach of Duty

Just because a proprietor owed a duty to a victim does not, by itself, establish that the proprietor is liable for the victim’s damages. Instead, we must move into the next element and determine whether the proprietor breached its duty to protect patrons and guests against criminal conduct. This issue of breach boils down to whether the proprietor acted “reasonably” in the face of the potential risk of violent crime occurring on the property

Here, again, you’ll see the issue of “foreseeability” rear its ugly head because the risk of harm is weighed against the security measures on the property. In other words, when crime is more foreseeable, particularly violent crime, a proprietor will generally need to implement more security than if the property had experienced less crime in the past. 

How Do You Prove the Landowner Breached the Duty of Care?

To establish the element of breach, the plaintiff needs to show that the proprietor failed to implement reasonable security measures under the circumstances. In other words, the landowner didn’t have enough security measures in place for the amount of criminal activity on or around the property. 


It’s not enough that a proprietor owed a duty and breached that duty to a victim. Once you establish the first two elements, we must then ask whether the kind of harm the victim suffered was the foreseeable result or the “probable or natural consequence” of the proprietor’s breach of duty. 

How Do You Establish Causation in a Negligent Security Case?

To establish the element of causation in a negligent security case, the plaintiff must be able to show that the lack of security measures on the property were the cause of the injuries the plaintiff suffered. In other words, the plaintiff must be able to show that the kind of harm the victim suffered was the foreseeable result or the “probable or natural consequence” of the proprietor’s breach of duty. 

For example, let’s say a person got attacked in a poorly lit parking lot in front of a business. Let’s say the person got robbed at knifepoint and was stabbed in the stomach during the robbery. The victim might point to the failure to maintain adequate lighting and data from the US Department of Justice on parking lot lighting to show that the poor lighting caused the attack.


Proving damages is straightforward and often not at issue. Essentially, a plaintiff must be able to show that they suffered some sort of harm as a result of the third-party criminal attack. The damages might be economic damages, like bills for medical treatment and rehabilitation. Damages may also be noneconomic, like pain and suffering, PTSD, or loss of enjoyment of life.

How Can a Plaintiff Prove Damages in an Inadequate Security Case in Florida?

To prove damages, a plaintiff needs to demonstrate losses and harm. Often times, medical bills and testimony about how the criminal attack affected his or her life can be used to establish damages. Where a suffers serious injuries, like in a shooting or stabbing case, this element is clearly established.