By John Fagan***
Negligent security is a type of premises liability dealing with crimes and violent acts. The victim is holding the owner or tenant responsible for the injury. Negligent security cases usually happen because the property owner is easier to locate than the stranger who perpetrated the crime. Some examples of negligent security cases are robbery, rape, assault, or battery. How do I know if I have a case? Landowners and possessors of property have to offer reasonable security and protect lawful visitors from foreseeable crimes. Both commercial and residential landowners/possessors have been successfully sued for negligent security. In order to have a case, you need to be able to show that the crime could have been prevented, or made less likely, if appropriate security measures would have been used. When a business or landowner knows about previous crimes committed on or near their property, they need to have a certain level of security. The level of security can be different depending on the property.
For example, a student of a college is not able to provide adequate security measures at his or her dormitory, so the college has a substantial duty to provide adequate security measures. Whereas a residential tenant has less responsibility, such as not having to be responsible for security measures in the apartment complex’s parking lot. What counts as adequate security? This depends on the property but some examples include trained security patrols when guests are on the property, appropriate lighting, functional security hardware (locks), no duplicate keys, security cameras, security gates (whole and intact), putting a notice of how much cash is in the register on the door, silent alarms, or using a safe drop. The more security on the property, the less likely a criminal will try to commit a crime there. Most court cases argue over whether the crime was foreseeable or not. The crimes committed in the area have to be similar.
For example, if there were 5 robberies in a mall parking lot before the robbery in a particular case, then the last robbery was foreseeable. However, if there were 5 robberies in the parking lot, and your case is a battery case, the battery may not be considered foreseeable. How frequently law enforcement has been called to the property may also help solidify whether your case was foreseeable or not. How to establish negligence? You can gather public records about previous crimes committed from all administrative agencies or governmental subdivisions under the Freedom of Information Act. You could also review federal and state regulations as well as building codes to see if the property owner is following the law. Your local trade associations and crime prevention organizations may have information about what is appropriate security and what is not. The local media can also be helpful because they identify eyewitnesses and prior instances of injuries and crimes. They may not release that information to you, but if you keep an eye on the local tv news and newspapers, you may run across some witnesses yourself.
As you can see, there is an immense need for an injury lawyer, if you have a negligent security case. Gathering evidence such as previous crime data, proving negligence, and showing that the event was foreseeable can be complicated and time consuming. My practice has the resources to thoroughly investigate a claim for negligent security to maximize recovery. You can always reach me at 1-855 FAGAN LAW or by email at John@JohnFagan.com.