Goldstein Buckley Cechman Rice & Purtz Attorney Richard L Purtz

By Richard L. Purtz, Partner

You and your family have decided to brave the crowds at the mall this time of year as you want to add some holiday cheer under the Christmas tree of family and friends. As can be expected, the parking lot is nearly full and you have to park a lot farther from an entrance compared to other times of the year. You end up at the end of a row, some 30 cars in the row away from the nearest entrance. You park your car and as you start walking toward the store, a car passes close by you and a person hanging outside the car window grabs your purse and pulls you onto the side of the car and then onto the ground as the car speeds off with your purse. You find yourself in extreme pain from the yanking of your purse, hitting the car and then the ground. You summon police who tell you that you are the fourth person this has happened to “TODAY”.

Is this an unlikely scenario? Not in today’s world. Who is responsible for your losses and injuries? Surely the thieves, but do you have any other recourse. The answer is YES.

Under Florida law, a commercial business property owner has a duty to protect you from foreseeable harm. Florida has adopted the Restatement (Second) of Torts which states, “If the likelihood that a third person may act in a particular manner is the hazard or one of the hazards which makes the actor negligent, such an act whether innocent, negligent, intentionally tortious, or criminal does not prevent the actor from being liable for harm caused thereby.” Florida courts have uniformly held businesses liable when criminal conduct and the harm arising therefrom is reasonably foreseeable.

So when is criminal conduct foreseeable? When it has happened in the past, police departments, the Sheriff’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement all keep records of reported crimes. These records, known as a crime grid, can be obtained for a specific address to determine if similar crimes had occurred in the past. If they have, then the business owner has a duty to protect you from subsequent similar acts. The failure to do so can lead to the business owner being responsible to pay for losses and harms one sustains.

Furthermore, in the above scenario, use of a car as an instrumentality of the crime, and one’s body coming into contact with the moving vehicle entitles one to the benefits of automobile insurance for PIP and uninsured motorist coverages. These coverages pay medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering damages sustained due to the incident.

Be safe this holiday season by being vigilant and providing security to you and your family by carrying full auto coverage which includes uninsured motorist coverage. Call Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz at (239) 334-1146 to make an appointment to speak to an attorney to review your insurance today.