Gas stations have always been a hot spot for criminals, especially late at night. We all know it, and gas station owners know it too. Nevertheless, thousands of Americans are victims of violent crime at gas stations every single year. Unfortunately, many of these violent crimes could have been prevented if the gas station owner or property owner had taken reasonable steps to deter criminal activity.
If a criminal attacked you or your loved one at a gas station, you may be entitled to compensation under the legal theory of negligent security or wrongful death. We have an experienced team of crime victim lawyers at our law firm that is ready to help you and your family get justice. We represent gunshot victims and folks that have been injured or killed in shootings, stabbings, assaults, or other acts of violence at gas stations, convenience stores, apartment complexes, and any other businesses or commercial properties.
You can call us and schedule your free consultation at (321) 352-7588, or you can contact us on our website and set up your consultation over email. Now, let’s talk more about negligent security cases involving shootings at gas stations.
When a Gas Station Shooting a Negligent Security Case?
Negligent security is a type of premises liability claim. A premises liability claim essentially involves a landowner or business that didn’t take reasonable steps to remedy or fix hazardous conditions. For example, the most common premises liability claim is probably a slip and fall accident claim. When a person slips and falls in a gas station and suffers injuries because a gas station owner or employee didn’t take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm, that can form the basis of a slip and fall claim, which is a common type of premises liability claim.
A negligent security claim is also a type of premises liability claim that typically involves a violent attack or a criminal attack. The assertion in a negligent security claim is the same: The gas station owner or property owner didn’t take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm to gas station patrons. However, the focus of a negligent security lawsuit is on the type of harm.
When we’re talking about a negligent security case involving a crime at a gas station, we’re generally talking about someone being the victim of a violent crime. For example, the typical gas station negligent security case will involve one of the following types of criminal attacks:
- Armed robbery;
- Sexual assault or rape; or
- Some other violent criminal act.
The above list of criminal acts is not exhaustive. Thus, if you or a loved one have been the victim of a criminal attack at a gas station, regardless of whether the specific type of attack is listed above, you may have a viable claim for negligent security. You can call us at (321) 352-7588 to set up a free consultation with one of our negligent security trial lawyers.
When is a Gas Station Liable for a Victim of a Violent Criminal Attack?
The key point in a viable negligent security case is that the gas station owner or a property owner failed to take reasonable measures to deter foreseeable crime. Let’s talk more about what constitutes a “reasonable measure” and when crime is “foreseeable.”
What Reasonable Measures Could a Gas Station Take to Deter Crime?
The exact type of safety measures or precautions that would be considered reasonable under the circumstances may vary, depending on the frequency and type of crime in the area. However, there are some basic steps every gas station can take to deter violent criminal attacks on the premises, including the following:
- Install and maintain working security cameras;
- Ensure the premises has adequate lighting;
- Install gates or fences; or
- Hire security or off-duty officers to patrol the premises.
When is a Criminal Act Foreseeable?
A gas station owner or property owner cannot simply play dumb and claim that criminal acts were not foreseeable on the gas station’s premises. Property owners and gas station owners should take reasonable steps to better understand the areas where they do business. For example, they should request crime data from the authorities periodically to ensure that proper safety measures are in place. Owners can request this crime data from the police to get up to date data on crime in the area. Once the gas station owner or property owner understands the criminal activity in the area, that owner should enact reasonable safety measures accordingly to ensure the safety of gas station patrons.
Criminal Punishment Versus Civil Punishment for a Violent Criminal Act or Shooting at a Gas Station
The criminal system and the civil system both work to make society a better place through punishment, but the punishment each system uses is very different. For example, in the criminal system, a criminal gets his or her rights or freedoms taken away. So, a person may be sent to jail or prison, where many of their rights and freedoms are taken away or suspended. Similarly, a criminal may lose his or her right to own a gun or vote.
A person punished through the civil system, however, is punished with money. Specifically, when an injured person sues a business or an entity, like a gas station, and that business is found to be at fault, the entity must pay an amount of money that is meant to make that injured person whole again (or at least as much as possible). If punitive damages are involved, then the negligent gas station may have to pay a lot more money, and the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the business or make an example out it so that no other business entities carelessly allow folks to be injured or killed at gas stations.
Now, you wonder why you wouldn’t sue the criminal instead of the gas station. The reality is that the criminal likely has no assets. In other words, most violent criminals don’t have any money or property to speak of. Thus, a crime victim could technically pursue civil action against a criminal, but this would not likely be a fruitful activity. The gas station, however, will typically have a commercial insurance policy that has enough coverage to properly compensate the victim for his or her medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, trauma, and more.
Ultimately, the gas station may bear responsibility for a violent criminal act on the premises because the gas station could have taken actions to reduce the risk of harm on the property. These remedial measures may have prevented the criminal attack that is the subject of the premises liability or negligent security claim. The reality is that we can’t put a gas station corporation or LLC in jail because business entities are not people. However, we may be able to make that entity write a check to the victim.
Therefore, negligent security claims give victims the opportunity to get justice through the civil system and get compensation for what they have suffered through. Moreover, these claims keep business entities from escaping any form of punishment for their carelessness or negligence.
Can a Person Sue a Gas Station After Being the Victim of a Violent Crime?
Gas stations are usually open late into the night, and some of them are open 24 hours a day. In the late hours when the gas station gets less traffic, there are typically less people working there to keep an eye out for nefarious activity. Accordingly, travelers and other folks who might need gas or supplies late at night can be an easy target for violent criminals.
Violent crime can leave a person devastated. The trauma of being attacked can last for years, and serious injuries can leave a person disabled or disfigured. In addition to all the pain and suffering that comes with a violent attack, there are financial burdens too. Folks that suffer an unexpected criminal attack at a gas station will need medical treatment for their injuries or gunshot wounds. As a result, the gunshot victim may be surprised to learn that he or she is saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills in the weeks after the attack.
That’s where we step in. We help people get the justice they deserve after being attacked or shot at a gas station that didn’t take the necessary steps to deter criminal attacks. We also help families get justice for their loved ones who were killed in a gas station shooting. Whether you are pursuing a negligent security lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit, we are here to make sure your voice is heard.
Florida Gas Station Security Laws
Florida, like many other states, has laws in place to protect people that visit a gas station or convenience store. The specific statute is Florida Statute 812.173, and it is sometimes called the Convenience Store Statute. The Convenience Store Statute requires gas stations that stay open in the hours between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. and have experienced recent crime to take extra measures to deter foreseeable violent crimes to patrons and employees.
The Convenience Store Statute also requires all gas stations and convenience stores, regardless of the hours of operation, to have some of the following security devices and standards:
- Security cameras capable of recording video;
- Drop safe or cash management device;
- Adequate lighting in the parking lot;
- Notice that the cash register only has $50 or less;
- An unobstructed view of the cash register from outside the building;
- Height markers at the entrance to help identify would be criminals by their height; and
- Cash management policies.
In addition to the security measures above, the Convenience Store Statute requires that every gas station or convenience store be equipped with a silent alarm.
Schedule Your FREE Consultation with a Florida Negligent Security Lawyer
An experienced attorney at Spetsas Buist PLLC can help determine if you have a viable negligent security claim. We can also discuss possible options moving forward. Our attorneys represent people who have been shot or attacked at gas stations in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Regardless of where you live, we are happy to give you a free consultation and talk to you about your potential case. We will help you however we can.
You can schedule your free legal consultation with a negligent security attorney at our office by calling us at (321) 352-7588. You can also contact us on our website, and we can schedule your consultation by email. We’re here when you need us.