VA Active Shooter Highlights Florida Negligent Security Law

Screaming that he needed a cigarette, a double amputee and U.S. Army veteran in West Palm Beach recently shot and wounded a doctor at the West Palm Beach Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center just before the veteran was scheduled to undergo a mental health evaluation. The veteran, who was 59 and originally from Michigan, arrived at the VA facility after his personal primary care physician referred him earlier in the day to the medical center’s emergency room for a mental health evaluation.

According to a news story from Local 10 regarding the shooting, two VA doctors were sitting at their desks about 6:30 p.m. when a nearby hospital technician screamed that someone was shooting in the Medical Center’s emergency room. One of the two doctors then confronted the shooter and was wounded in the process but managed to disarm the shooter. The shooter had hidden the gun in his wheelchair cushion when he initially entered the facility through metal detectors. Another VA employee was slightly injured when grazed by a bullet. This scene, although it resulted in less injury than could have been the case if not for the heroic actions of a physician, reflects how important it is that Florida property owners take adequate measures to prevent such incidents when their property is at particular risk for violent incidents.

What Exactly Are Negligent Security Claims?

Negligent security claims are a type of premises liability claim, the same as a slip-and-fall claim in a grocery store or other business or property. Property owners are required to exercise a certain level of care to keep visitors to their premises or property safe from dangers the property owner either was aware of or should have been aware of. These include dangers on the property itself as well as dangers external to the property which may affect the safety of someone on the property. This is because, like a slip-and-fall claim, negligent security claims deal with the adequacy of the measures a property owner or operator has taken to safeguard visitors from certain types of harm.

In the case of a premises liability claim against a grocery store, a patron who slips on a jar of salad dressing that the grocery store owner or operator allowed to carelessly accumulate on the floor is a known risk that comes with the territory of owning and operating a grocery store. If your business stocks goods in jars and containers that can be easily be broken if they fall from the shelf, then it is foreseeable that a jar will break and a liquid substance may end up on the floor. It is similarly foreseeable that a liquid substance that is not immediately cleaned up can lead to an injury if someone slips and falls on that substance.  A property owner can be liable under Florida law for failing to take adequate measures to safeguard visitors to its property.  In the case of an apartment complex in a high crime area where there have been muggings or armed robberies in the past, then the owner and/or property manager of the apartment complex is aware of the need to ensure that he, she or it takes appropriate measures to ensure that visitors to the apartment complex are safe. If the property owner fails to do so, he or she can be held liable for that failure if injuries or death occur as a result because it is foreseeable that if the person does not take such adequate security measures, a complex resident or visitor will be injured or killed as a result.

However, just as is the case with businesses that experience slip-and-fall incidents regularly, some property owners who should know better and act for the benefit of their customers or residents simply do not do the right thing and refuse to take the appropriate measures to ensure the safety of their customers and visitors. This can include hiring security guards to monitor the property or the nearby streets and sidewalks, installing a security or alarm system, or contracting with the local municipality to have off-duty police officers monitor the premises at particularly dangerous hours.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal practice representing victims of negligent security and personal injury claims in Florida. Over those years, we have represented a wide variety of victims who were injured in all sorts of different scenarios where a business or property owner failed to take appropriate safety precautions to protect visitors to a property, including those who were injured or killed as a result of a property or business owner’s failure to take adequate measures to protect visitors to a property from a security risk that either was known to the property owner or should have been known. Therefore, if you or a member of your family have been injured or killed because of a property owner’s failure to take appropriate steps to protect visitors to its property from harm, then contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.