Nobody welcomes violent crime at their home or business. However, certain places have a high potential for violent crime due to the nature of their business, their neighborhood, a history of criminal activity in the area, and other factors. Businesses and individuals are legally required to take steps to keep those who are lawfully on their property safe from harm. If an owner fails to take those steps and someone is the victim of a violent crime on the property, that victim may have the right to bring a lawsuit for inadequate security. If you have been seriously injured due to inadequate or negligent security, you must consider your legal options. Contact The Wilton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist you.
Forms of Negligent Security
Oftentimes, victims of inadequate security are customers of commercial ventures, tenants in rental properties or condominiums, or people in locations where property owners owe them a duty of protection from foreseeable harm. Certain locations have a history of criminal activity, where the potential for criminal attack is foreseeable. In these situations, the property owner(s) and manager(s) must take appropriate and necessary steps to ensure the safety of people who have been 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, may be held liable for failing to protect their 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. Other forms of inadequate security may include:
- Insufficient lighting in areas known to be dangerous
- Failure to install or maintain locks, alarms, and cameras
- Negligent or careless security guards
- Failure to monitor security cameras
Where can I be injured by negligent security?
Property owners are legally obligated to keep their grounds safe and secure for all tenants, visitors, and customers. When they fail to do so 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 several 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
Types of Negligent Security Claims
Negligent and inadequate security is often the result of an owner or security personnel who fails to show 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, such as 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. That being said, negligent security injuries can also stem from negligent actions, as opposed to a lack thereof. For example, a security guard or bouncer’s overly-aggressive reaction to an incident can cause serious unwarranted injuries. Assault by security personnel is a major premises liability issue, and it often results in serious injuries at bars, casinos, nightclubs, or music venues. 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 responsibly.
Determining Liability for Inadequate or Negligent Security
Property owners are not always liable for crimes that occur on their properties, 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 property owner’s responsibility to control the environment and minimize the risk of criminal activity. A well-established security system will decrease opportunities for criminal activities. These systems often include security patrol, security cameras, access control, adequate lighting, security surveys, and effective landscape design. Property owners have particular duties to people who lawfully enter the premises. They have a responsibility to:
- Sufficiently maintain the property
- Stay informed of any dangerous conditions
- Warn any visitors or tenants of those conditions
- 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 Property Owner Liability
If you plan to take legal action against a property owner, you must fulfill the burden of proof. Proving liability depends on a large number of factors, and an experienced premises liability attorney can advise you on your specific case. To prove that a property owner is liable, you must establish that:
- 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
It is helpful to gather a variety of evidence when filing a negligent or inadequate security claim. Obtaining the criminal history of the property, a police report from the incident, property maintenance records, medical records relating to your injuries, and eyewitness testimony will help bolster your case.
Because of the nature of violent crimes, inadequate security injuries in New Jersey are frequently serious and cause traumatic injuries, some even resulting in wrongful death. These are serious, life-altering injuries that can leave victims permanently disabled or emotionally traumatized. They are also very expensive injuries to treat, 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. If you have been hurt due to insufficient security, you may be entitled to recover significant compensation for the burdens you faced. Of course, 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
Contact a New Jersey Inadequate Security Attorney
If you have been seriously injured as a result of inadequate security, you may be suffering from serious physical, emotional, and financial burdens that can impact you for years to come. At The Wilton Law Firm, you can count on us to effectively represent your interests and help you seek justice. We are ready to explore all legal options to help you recover the compensation you deserve. We have tried and settled many accident cases involving security negligence. For quality legal representation when it matters most, contact The Wilton Law Firm today.