Negligent Security Defined
When a crime occurs, the last thing people think about is civil liability. However, if an injury happens on somebody’s property due to a criminal or violent act, you may be able to hold the owner/operator responsible.
What is negligent security?
The property owner has a responsibility to keep their property and anybody on their property safe from danger under premises liability law. Landowners and possessors of property must take reasonable security measures and keep visitors/occupiers safe from third-party foreseeable crimes.
To prove negligent security, the plaintiff must prove the owner provided inadequate protection. They must demonstrate that the crime could have been prevented or made less likely by using security measures. The landowner/possessor must have failed to take reasonable care to discover any prior criminal activities to be responsible. The landowner has a responsibility to sufficiently warn its visitors of any previous illegal activity to help them avoid injuries.
A key component of negligent security cases is foreseeability. Foreseeability is generally based on whether there were prior, similar crimes in the area that the owner knew or should have known about. There are three general ways to determine foreseeability:
1. The imminent harm test
Under this test, owners and operators who discover a criminal act is imminent must warn the customer or call the police. In reality, this is not a foreseeability test but requires the owner to react to imminent harm.
2. Prior criminal incidents test
Responsibility under this test is created when the owner knew or should have known of similar criminal conduct occurring on the premises or frequent criminal activity in the area.
3. Totality of the circumstances test
Some states use this test to determine whether the crime should have been foreseeable. This test includes evidence of foreseeability, security measures, neighborhood character, and all prior crimes near the premises.
What Constitutes Inadequate Security?
The standard of adequate security will depend on the property. First and foremost, a building must ensure all of its doors and windows can close and lock properly. If the premises is open land, there must be sufficient fencing or gating to keep any foreseeable criminal activity out. The inability to properly secure the premises will lead to the owner/operator’s responsibility for any harm caused.
Adequate security also entails any of the following:
· Trained security patrols
· Appropriate lighting
· Functioning security hardware such as locks and alarms
Examples of Negligent Security
Criminal acts can occur at any place or time. Therefore, property owners and operators must be prepared to protect their guests from a variety of instances. These include:
· Club shootings
· Stabbings on subways, trains, or other public transportation
· Attacks in garages, apartment complexes, office buildings, and more
· Injuries sustained by guests at concerts, malls, or other places of business
Who is Liable for Negligent Security?
Contrary to what most would think, the lawsuit is not filed against the attacker. Instead, the premises owner, operator, or security provider is responsible for the attack. The owner or operator of the premises is liable for failing to take appropriate steps to ensure their guests’ safety. The security provider is responsible when they failed to protect the premises they were hired to secure.
Damages for Negligent Security
A plaintiff can recover economic and non-economic damages. Their economic damages include monetary losses that result from the injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Under non-economic damages, the plaintiff can recover for their pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Tracking your damages from the date of the accident is an essential first step to take. Having this information from the start makes it easier later on to prove the plaintiff’s damages. Furthermore, during the lawsuit’s discovery stage, the defendant will request information, including the plaintiff’s medical records. Plaintiff’s attorney will contact you regarding all documents they need to respond to the defendant’s requests.
The Details of a Negligent Security Lawsuit
In addition to collecting the plaintiff’s records, the defendant will take the plaintiff’s deposition. During the testimony, the plaintiff will be required to answer questions regarding the incident and their injuries. After the discovery stage is over, the settlement process will begin. Plaintiff’s attorney is required to advise them of any offer the defense makes. If you cannot reach an agreement, the sides will move forward to court assisted settlement discussions involving mediations or settlement conferences with the court. If these options fail, then the court will order an arbitration or have a trial.
Finding The Right Lawyer For Your Negligent Security Case
When bringing a lawsuit for negligent security, it is crucial to get the best representation possible. Almost all personal injury law firms handle negligent security cases, but it would be wise to choose one specializing in negligent security. Your attorney will be your go-to person until the case is over for legal questions and often as someone to lean on. Attorneys often say they have two jobs, to be their client’s attorney and therapist. Therefore, it is essential to pick an attorney you feel comfortable with and that you can trust.