Nobody welcomes violent crime at his or her business/home. However, for some, a violent crime is foreseeable at their location because of the type of business in which they are engaged, the neighborhood, past history of criminal activity in the area, or other factors.
Businesses and individuals are legally required to take steps to keep those legally on their premises safe from harm. If they fail to adequately take steps to protect people on their property, and people are injured, in a resulting crime, victims have the right to hold the property owners, managers, security subcontractors, tenants, and others responsible for their injuries and losses; and may bring a lawsuit claiming inadequate security.
Many of these crimes are potentially preventable; often the victims are customers of commercial ventures, tenants in rental properties or condominiums, or individuals in locations where property owners owe them a duty of protection from foreseeable harm.
Certain locations with a history of criminal activity, where the potential for criminal attack is foreseeable, it is the duty of the property owner(s) and manager(s) to take appropriate and necessary steps to ensure the safety of people lawfully invited onto the premises. Many people are unaware that they may receive compensation through the civil justice system when there is injury or death as a result of a preventable criminal attack.
Any property owner including businesses, landlords, homeowners or even government agencies, and possibly others associated with the property, may be held legally liable for failing to protect its visitors, renters or customers. Inadequate security might sound like a simple failure to hire security guards, but that’s just one form of inadequate security. Others include:
- Insufficient lighting in areas known to be dangerous
- Failure to install or maintain locks, alarms and cameras
- Negligence by guards
- Failure to monitor security cameras
Because of the nature of violent crime, inadequate security injuries in New Jersey are frequently serious and traumatic injuries such as physical or sexual assault, some resulting in wrongful death. These are serious, life-altering injuries that can leave victims permanently disabled or emotionally traumatized. They can also be very expensive injuries to treat medically and otherwise; often causing tens of thousands of dollars in medical and therapy bills, as well as lost wages. An inadequate security lawsuit can help victims recover those and other expenses caused by a property owner’s careless attitude toward foreseeable risks.
Property owners have a certain duty to tenants, visitors, and customers to keep the grounds safe and secure. When they fail to keep the environment safe and someone is injured as a result, property owners can be found liable under premises liability. Negligent and inadequate security is one subsection of premises liability, and it deals with a number of oversights by property owners.
Negligent and inadequate security is a problem at a number of locations, including:
- Apartment complexes and condominiums
- Parking lots
- Shopping centers
- Hotels and motels
- Sports arenas and stadiums
- Amusement parks
- Swimming pools
- Grocery stores
Negligent and inadequate security, deal with an owner or security personnel not showing reasonable care for the safety of others. This lack of reasonable care can range from inadequate lighting in a mall parking lot to security guards who fail to step in during an assault.
Depending on the nature of the property, negligent and inadequate security claims will vary. Some examples of negligent or inadequate security include:
- Insufficient lighting in parking lots, parking garages, or another area on the property
- Failure to install proper locks on hotel or apartment doors
- Failure to install proper alarms
- Failure to monitor security cameras
- Failure to properly train and supervise staff
- Careless hiring of staff or security personnel
- Assault at the hands of overzealous security personnel
- Lack of lifeguards, leading to a drowning
- Security guards’ failure to step in during a mugging, assault, bar fight, or kidnapping
- Hospital security’s failure to stop a visitor from assaulting a patient or fellow visitor
Most negligent or inadequate security claims stem from inaction, a property owner’s failure to install sufficient security, a bouncer’s failure to step in during a fight, or the failure to properly train and/or supervise staff.
However, another type of negligent or inadequate security stems from action, such as a security guard or bouncer’s aggressive reaction to an incident. Assault by security personnel is a major premises liability issue, and it can result in serious injuries at a bar, casino, nightclub, or music venue. Security personnel are entitled to a certain amount of force when dealing with disruptive guests or unwanted visitors, but the amount of force must be reasonable and suitable for the situation. Security guards are not above the law, and they are obligated to fulfill their duties in a non-negligent manner.
Property owners are not always liable for crimes that occur on their property. But when the crime in question was caused by inadequate security measures, the business owner can be found at fault. A defense attorney will often argue that the assailant was the only one at fault in the incident. But it is the responsibility of the property owner to control the environment and minimize the risk of criminal activity. A well-established security system will decrease opportunities for criminal activities, and these systems often include security patrol, security cameras, access control, adequate lighting, security surveys, and landscape design.
Owners and possessors of a property have particular duties to people who lawfully enter the premises. They have a responsibility to:
- Properly maintain the property
- Stay informed of any dangerous conditions
- Warn any visitors or tenants
- Rectify the dangerous situation.
The property’s criminal history can be a significant factor in negligent and inadequate security. If a certain property has a high rate of crime, the property owner has a responsibility to increase security measures.
Proving liability depends on a large number of factors, and an experienced premises liability attorney will be able to advise you on your specific case. In order to prove that a property owner is liable, you must establish:
- The owner was negligent in his or her security obligations
- The owner breached his or her duty of care to guests, patrons, or tenants
- The negligent security caused your harm or injury
A variety of evidence will be helpful when filing a negligent or inadequate security claim. Obtaining criminal history of the property, a police report from the incident, maintenance records for the property, medical records from your injuries, and eyewitness testimony will help bolster your case.
The amount you are eligible to win will depend on your injuries and the specifics of your incident. Plaintiffs in premises liability cases often pursue damages for:
- Medical costs
- Wrongful death
- Lost income and other expenses, including decreased earning capacity, housekeeping expenses, childcare, and more
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
If you or someone you love has suffered due to someone’s negligent security, contact The Wilton Law Firm. We have tried and settled many accident cases involving security negligence. Call 732-275-9555 for a free consultation if your spouse, child or loved one has suffered. We serve clients throughout New Jersey.