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Near-Fatal Shooting at Kissimmee Family Dollar Store

Oldham & Smith Jan. 5, 2018

Several men got into an argument on the store’s premises, and the confrontation ended with shots being fired.

The argument apparently spilled over into the parking lot of the Family Dollar on South Poinciana. According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, the shooting began as the men got into their vehicles. One man was seriously injured, but the perpetrator had evidently fled the scene by the time emergency responders arrived.

None of the names were released.

Premises Liability Basics in Florida

Since they have no way to do so themselves, visitors count on owners to keep their properties safe enough for people to conduct social or commercial activities. Like most states, Florida divides guests into categories and assigns a legal duty based on that classification:

  • Invitee: Most people respond to the owner’s express or implied invitation, such as an “open for business” sign, and provide a benefit to the owner. That benefit does not have to be economic. Window-shoppers are invitees, and so are most social guests, because the owner receives a social benefit. If the victim is an invitee, the owner had a duty to inspect the property and ensure that it was reasonably safe.

  • Licensee: If the victim had permission to be at the property but there was no possible benefit to the owner, such as a guest of an apartment dweller, the person is a licensee and is only entitled to warnings about latent (unseen) defects.

  • Trespasser: If there was no permission and no benefit, the victim is a trespasser. Owners owe no legal duty in these cases, unless an exception applies, like the attractive nuisance doctrine.

This classification system, which applies to incidents like parking lot shootings, slip-and-fall injuries, swimming pool drownings, and animal attacks, is deeply rooted in the common law.

Are Landowners Responsible for Third Party Crimes in Orlando?

Foreseeability is a key element in almost all negligence cases. Sometimes, a third-party action breaks the chain of foreseeability, excusing the owner of liability. That doctrine especially applies to things like random shootings, which are very unpredictable.

However, Florida law allows victims to successfully file claims against property owners in some of these situations. A third-party act can be foreseeable, based on factors including:

  • Similar incidents at nearby businesses,

  • The likelihood of that particular kind of harm, and

  • Similar incidents at that location.

A shooting in a Family Dollar parking lot is certainly an unexpected event. Nevertheless, if there had been violent fights at the store or if there had recently been a nearby shooting, the property owner may still be responsible for damages.

Count on Tenacious Attorneys

Generally, owners must keep their invited guests reasonably safe. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Orlando, contact Oldham & Smith. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if the victims have no money or insurance.