Inadequate security lawsuits are a category of a negligence claim under premises liability. In premises liability lawsuits, the plaintiff is trying to hold a property owner liable for failing to provide adequate security for business patrons, including shoppers in a shopping center or students on a college campus. The plaintiff is usually seeking a damages award from the business owner or an injunction requiring them to change their security policies.
A premises liability case is usually limited for criminal acts done by third parties because the property owner cannot anticipate criminal acts of another. However, a property owner may be held liable for criminal acts of third parties if the property owner knew or should have known that criminal conduct is common in surrounding areas.
How to Prove a Claim For Inadequate Security?
When suing for inadequate security, a plaintiff must show that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care or failed to provide adequate warnings to prevent visitors from sustaining injuries. If the duty owed to the plaintiff is breached the plaintiff may have a claim for Inadequate security. Besides duty, the foreseeability of an injury or that an injury “may be reasonably anticipated” is crucial in proving a claim for inadequate security.
For example, if there are previous claims of crime break-ins or the property is located in a high crime area, the court will consider these circumstances. Another example, would be if the business owner had knowledge of a previous crime in the area where the incident took place. Below is a more detailed explanation of factors courts will use to determine if the damage was foreseeable.
The Nature of the Business Premises: Some businesses require more security measures than others. For example, certain establishments like bars, lounges, dance nightclubs, and casinos are generally expected to provide more security staff. On the other hand, there is less of a probability to expect high amounts of security for businesses like restaurants, restaurants or shopping centers. These businesses usually have their most traffic during the daytime and won’t require the same security.
Crime Demographics and Statistics in the Area: If the business is located in an area that has a high potential of crimes based on previous incidents, the owner may have a heightened duty to provide clients with security. This is especially true where the owner may have direct knowledge of high crime frequency in the area. On the other hand, areas with low crime demographics may be associated with lower protection needs.
Location of the Incident: If an assault occurred in a populated area of the business, such as the entrance or lobby, there is a greater chance that the owner may be held liable. In comparison, security is not reasonably expected in a less populated alleyway behind a building, or in a remote area of a parking lot.
A court needs to consider these factors when determining whether or not security was adequate in a business establishment. In most cases, courts hold business owners to a “reasonableness” standard. That is, business owners are only required to provide a degree of security that is reasonable for that type of business operation.
What Type of Duty is Owed?
The type of duty owed varies depending on the type of business. Listed below are examples of different kinds of duty:
- Administrative Duty: A business and property owner should have a proper recording system for reporting and collecting information of criminal activity on or near premises. This will provide proof of the amount of crime that has taken place, if ever needed.
- Interior Security and Exterior Security: Property owners should have effective security policies and measures inside the building premises as well as outside the building. For Exterior Security, measures like proper lighting and parking lots should be ensured. It is also important to make sure that the business owner is familiar with all areas of the premises in case something goes wrong.
- Employee Security: Employers should do in-depth background checks on prospective job applicants and current employees if the type of employment deals with people such as children or elders. They should also adequately train and supervise their employees to recognize any activity that may be seen as suspicious.
What Damages am I Entitled to?
If you are found to be a victim of an inadequate security lawsuit, you may be entitled to damages. Under tort law, damages will be rewarded based on the amount of harm created. Your damages could be either economic damages, including lost wages, hospital bills or, noneconomic damages including emotional distress or, pain and suffering.
Will I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with an Inadequate Security Lawsuit?
Legal requirements for business owners and security are constantly changing and very complicated. For these reasons, it’s in your best interest to contact a competent personal injury attorney for assistance with an inadequate security lawsuit. An experienced personal injury attorney may represent your interests in a court of law to your benefit.