Banks and premises liability: ATMs in dangerous conditions

If you’re a Florida resident who needs to use an ATM after dark, know that your safety may be at risk. A recent study shows that many robberies in the Miami area occur at ATMs. Since 2011, there have been 35 incidents of robberies at ATMs throughout Florida. Some of these involved shootings and murder. Is this a potential premises liability issue for banks?

Nobody tracks ATM crimes, so their rate of occurrence is largely underreported. In addition, safety requirements at Florida ATMs are relatively lax. Although some banks, such as Wells Fargo, claim to be focused on customer safety, it is unknown what improvements they have done, if any. In addition, banks do not wish to tell which ATMs are more dangerous than others.

However, many ATM locations violate state law. Victims have reported concerns such as broken mirrors, poor lighting and high shrubbery. According to state law, ATMs must have adequate lighting, reflective mirrors and no obstructions. This means that vegetation and landscaping must not exceed three feet in height.

But are these standards being enforced? Since 2009, no citations have been given to any of the 250 banks throughout Florida. There are more than 100 full-time inspectors visiting these ATMs every 18 months.

Banks have the responsibility to keep their premises safe, even after dark. There is no excuse for inadequate lighting or security. Surveillance cameras and mirrors should be in place to increase safety and help track down perpetrators should a robbery or act of violence occur on the premises.

Those who are victims of ATM crimes have the legal right to discuss their options with a legal professional. When a person cannot even withdraw money safely in the dark, banks need to stand up and take responsibility for their negligence. Many victims have received settlements from banks for the trauma and injuries they have endured.

FCIR, “Banks Fail To Protect Consumers From ATM Crime, FCIR Investigation Finds” Mc Nelly Torres, Nov. 20, 2013