Negligent security is a type of premises liability. Property owners must address any safety concerns on their properties to ensure their guests’ wellbeing. This can include maintaining security measures. For example, if a hotel guest falls down a broken staircase, the subsequent legal proceedings will revolve around premises liability law. If a criminal physically or sexually assaults a guest on the premises, the case will likely function as a negligent security lawsuit.
Security measures must be in place at buildings such as apartment complexes, shopping malls, hotels, and casinos to protect lawful visitors on the premises. This may include:
- Security guards or other security personnel tasked with patrolling the premises and maintaining order
- Surveillance cameras covering high-risk and vulnerable areas throughout the property
- Electronic door locks
- Adequate lighting
- Security gates
- Keycard/badge access to private or residential areas
How to Win Your Negligent Security Case
If you suffered an injury in a seemingly secure location, you can file a negligent security lawsuit against the property owner. As with other types of personal injury lawsuits, negligent security cases revolve around the concept of negligence. To prove the defendant’s negligence, your attorney must establish the following:
- The defendant (the property owner being sued) had a duty to act with reasonable care. In this case, the property owner had a legal responsibility to address any foreseeable security risks.
- The defendant breached this duty in some way. In negligent security cases, the security measures in place were insufficient or incapable of preventing reasonably foreseeable harm to lawful visitors.
- This breach directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff is the person or party filing the lawsuit.
Your attorney must conduct an investigation of the premises in question to determine if the property owner failed to address any reasonably foreseeable hazards on the property. The judge will likely determine what counts as a reasonably foreseeable hazard after considering the type of premises in question, its location, and the nature of the incident.
Holes in security can come in many forms, including:
- Blind spots out of the field of view of surveillance cameras (security cameras must be positioned in a way that limits blind spots and ensures high-risk areas are visible on the security feed)
- Broken or unreliable door-locking mechanisms; these systems require regular testing
- Easily duplicated key fobs or ID badges—property owners must maintain a strict inventory of building keys, ensuring duplicates cannot be easily obtained
- Poorly trained security personnel
- Complacent security personnel (regularly adjusting patrol routes and times helps deter criminals who may be watching out for patterns)
- Poor or insufficient lighting—poorly lit areas are inherently dangerous and may provide criminals with opportunities to ambush potential targets
This list does not include every possible security shortcoming. Remember, negligent security can only be blamed for failing to prevent reasonably foreseeable safety issues. If lightning strikes you in a hotel parking lot on your way to your car, it is unlikely a judge will decide that the hotel owner should have prepared for such an eventuality. However, if someone assaults you or robs you at gunpoint on your way through the hotel garage, a judge will likely hold the property owner accountable for your damages.
Your attorney will likely consult with experts in the security industry to build your case. If you are considering filing a negligent security lawsuit, retain the services of an attorney with experience and a commitment to clients’ success. Reach out to SteinLaw for a free consultation about your recent injury, and we will discuss the details to see if a negligent security lawsuit is in your best interest.