While it may not be a place where you shop often, there is a good chance that you visit a South Florida convenience store from time to time for gas, a quick snack, lottery tickets, or other basics. Unfortunately, these spots can be a target for various forms of criminal activity. The 24×7 hours, limited number of employees, availability of cash, and other factors can make these stores dangerous for customers. If you are familiar with basic laws regarding premises liability, you may know that it is possible to pursue a convenience store owner for monetary damages under the theory of negligent security.
However, what you do not know is that Florida law has carved out an exception for property owners when their premises constitute a convenience store under the statutory definition. Your Miami premises liability attorney can explain the details and assist with your case, but some information on the legal issues may be helpful.
Overview of Premises Liability and Negligent Security
The foundation of a premises liability claim is the property owner’s duty to ensure that the space is safe for those who enter upon it. Because these cases fall under the legal concept of negligence, the entity or person in control over the premises is bound to a reasonableness standard: The property owner is only obligated to protect against reasonably foreseeable hazards.
When the dangerous condition on property is linked to criminal activity, the specific claim for premises liability case is negligent or inadequate security. You may qualify to recover compensation by presenting such evidence as:
- Calls to 911 from the subject property;
- Reports from others who were injured or witnessed criminal activity;
- Arrests by police; and,
- Insurance claims for property damage from criminal acts.
At some convenience stores, there may be a multitude of evidence regarding these factors.
Operation of Florida’s Statute for Convenience Stores
Florida law on the liability of convenience store owners creates an exception for premises liability cases where the allegations focus on negligent security. When the owner or operator of the business has undertaken security efforts to prevent or reduce crime, you may NOT be able to pursue the convenience store for damages. However, you should note two important points:
- The statute provides for a presumption against liability, not an ironclad defense for the property owner. It is up to you to rebut the presumption to recover damages.
- The store owner can be held accountable for not undertaking the security measures required by Florida law. The statute mandates security cameras, a well-lit parking lot, safekeeping for cash, and windows that offer a clear, unobstructed view of the cash register from outside.
Contact Our Miami Premises Liability Lawyers for More Information
If you suffered injuries at a South Florida convenience store because of negligent security, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA to set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach. We can review your circumstances and conduct an investigation to determine whether the statutory exception applies.