What is Negligent Security?
When a crime is committed, we often assume that the criminal system is the only way that a victim can receive some sort of reparation, restitution, or payment. You may be surprised to learn that the civil system can also be used to help victims when a crime was committed, especially when the crime is one that happens on a business owner’s property.
The legal concept of negligent security makes property owners liable for the crimes that happen on their property, even though the actual criminals are independent actors who may be acting without the knowledge, consent or permission of the property owner. The idea is that the property owner created conditions, or allowed conditions to exist, that made it possible for the crime to be committed. Had the property owner taken safety measures, it is likely that the crime would not have occurred.
This is especially true for businesses that exist in higher crime areas. The doctrine can be used to hold any land or property owner liable, including apartment buildings, shopping malls, or office buildings.
Examples of When a Property Owner Could be Liable
Examples of cases where a property owner may be liable for negligent security include:
- Someone who is mugged in a dark corner of a shopping mall parking garage
- A tenant who is a victim of an apartment intrusion by a home invader, where the landlord does not prove proper screening of guests, or working locks on doors
- A shopping mall that allows large groups of gangs to commit crimes because there are not enough security guards on the property
- A store that requires its customers to park in dark, isolated corners of the property.
As you can see, “security” for the purpose of what a property owner must do to keep people safe doesn’t just mean security guards. It can also mean the failure to provide surveillance cameras or proper lighting
A large part of a negligent security case is whether the crime was foreseeable—that is, whether the property owner could anticipate that there was a likelihood that the people they invite on their property, such as customers, tenants, visitors, etc., would be victims of crime.
Of course, nobody knows exactly where and if a crime is going to occur. But there are factors that say whether crime may be foreseeable or not. For example, we can look at crime statistics in a given area to see if it is in an area with a lot of crime. If so, it is likely that a criminal event is foreseeable, thus making it vital for the business to have had proper precautions in place to protect its customers.
If you are a crime victim, you may also be entitled to recover damages for your injuries. Call the Clinton personal injury attorneys at Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, today to schedule a free consultation.