New Laws in Florida Could Affect Injuries & Deaths in Gun-Free Zones
The annual 60-day Florida legislative session kicks off in March, with newly proposed laws that could affect both gun-free zones and whether or not customers who are violently injured in businesses as the result of not being armed could then hold those businesses responsible for their personal injuries.
Historically, gun-free zone businesses could not be held liable under circumstances in which an unarmed customer—who is otherwise licensed to carry arms—is violently injured while on the business’ premises. This is because this type of harm has never been considered to be foreseeable, given the circumstances of the business itself and the customer shopping there.
A Law to Automatically Making Businesses Liable For Injuries
However, Senate Bill 610 seeks to establish a statutory cause of action allowing injured customers to sue under these circumstances. Specifically, the bill would establish that gun-free zone stores assume “absolute custodial responsibility” for the safety and defense of anyone who disarms due to the store’s policy, but who is otherwise licensed to carry arms for purposes of self-defense.
Not only does it ensure that the store is liable for actual damages, but also attorney’s fees, court costs, and associated costs. It also requires that these businesses clearly display notice of this legal responsibility. If the bill passes, Florida businesses wishing to remain gun-free would likely need to take extra steps to ensure the safety of customers, such as hiring armed guards.
A Law Strengthening Gun-Free Zones
Other legislation seeks to address the startling rise in number of children killed annually in Florida over the last seven years, as child gun injuries, specifically, are now up by at least 36 percent.
Currently, Florida law prohibits concealed weapons in 15 types of locations, which include elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools. The 1989 law also mandates that a gun owner can face second-degree misdemeanor charges if a child under the age of 16 is able to get a hold of their weapon and use it in a public place in a threatening manner; and if the child uses it to injure or kill someone, that adult gun owner can face third-degree felony charges. The law also requires gun owners to warn potential buyers about these penalties; however, there have been enforcement issues associated with this particular requirement.
While some feel that children are generally less safe in gun-free zones because no one is armed to stop a potential assault, the Miami Herald recently found that gun-related accidents have increased far faster than gun-related assaults. In fact, a 2000 study found that the 1989 law was associated with a 51 percent decrease in unintentional child deaths. Some lawmakers now want to take the law a step further and require the use of safe or trigger lock when children are around guns.
Personal Injury Attorneys Serving Boca Raton & Surrounding Areas
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or death–either due to negligence or under circumstances covered by a Florida statute–it is important that you know your rights. Once you’ve received medical attention, contact the experienced Boca Raton personal injury attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A. for your legal consultation. Our attorneys bring years of experience in working with injury victims.