Negligent or inadequate security can be grounds for a personal injury claim if the property owner could reasonably have anticipated the harm yet did not take reasonable care to prevent it. Negligent security claims are based on premises liability. They allow victims of criminal activity and other security lapses to sue the property owner for not taking reasonable steps to keep them safe while on the premises.
What is a negligent security case?
A negligent security case is a civil lawsuit against the party in charge of the premises where a crime occurred. It demands financial compensation from this party for its failure to keep people safe while they are on the property. It is often filed by the victims of a:
- sexual assault,
- robbery, or
Inadequate security cases are often filed against the following parties:
- landlords, or
- business owners.
The following types of businesses are especially likely to face negligent security claims:
- apartment complexes and apartment buildings,
- shopping malls,
- commercial properties with parking garages, and
- nursing homes.
Generally, these parties are legally responsible for protecting their patrons or tenants from reasonably anticipated criminal conduct, even if that conduct comes from a third party. Landlords and business owners have to take reasonable steps to keep these people safe.1 What steps are sufficient will depend on the facts of the case. It often involves:
- putting up security cameras,
- hiring additional security personnel, and
- establishing policies and practices designed to deter criminal acts on the premises.
For the property owner to be held liable, though, the criminal conduct has to be reasonably anticipated. This generally requires that it be foreseeable. While most courts look to all of the circumstances to determine whether a crime was foreseeable or not,2 a known history of similar incidents is a strong piece of evidence.3 This is especially true for business owners. Landlords are generally held to a higher duty of care to keep their tenants safe.4
If you are the victim of a crime, filing a negligent security claim can be an important part of your recovery. Even if the criminal is caught, he or she will not compensate you for your losses. The criminal justice system focuses on punishing the criminal, not helping the victim. Civil lawsuits filed against the criminal are usually futile because the perpetrator is almost always judgment-proof. Any liability insurance that they have will not cover their intentional acts. Without insurance companies involved, you will have to hold the perpetrator personally liable. This means forcing them to compensate you out of their own pocket. They are unlikely to have enough to cover even a small settlement or verdict.
With the help of a negligent security attorney, you can recover what you deserve after a criminal attack caused by a lack of reasonable security.
Is negligent security a type of premises liability?
Yes, negligent security cases fall into the field of premises liability law. They aim to hold property owners accountable for their failure to keep people safe. Most other premises liability cases concern slip and falls. In these cases, the property owner can be liable for not maintaining the premises or for not fixing or warning about dangerous conditions. In negligent security cases, the property owner can be liable for not keeping you safe from others.
By establishing an attorney-client relationship with a premises liability attorney, you can get the legal advice you need to make an informed decision about how to proceed with your injury case.
What are some examples of negligent security?
Some examples of negligent security cases are:
- a hospital in a high crime area disarmed its security guards and let the public use its research staff’s parking lot, which was across the street from the hospital. At 10pm one night, a doctor got shot as he was getting into his car,5
- not evicting a tenant from a mobile home park after he has become known to have criminal associations with gang members, leading to a neighbor getting shot with a stray bullet,6 and
- a woman rejected the sexual advances of a man in a bar and bowling alley in an area with a history of violent crimes. As she left, the bar’s bouncer told her that the man was in the well-lit parking lot, but did not accompany her to her car. The man attacked her with a knife and nearly killed her.7
In all of these cases, the property owner failed to take reasonable steps or to adopt adequate security measures to keep its patrons or tenants safe, leading to the victim’s injuries.
What compensation can I get in a negligent security claim?
If you were the victim of a crime that happened because the property owner provided inadequate security, you are entitled to compensation. That compensation should cover all of your losses from the incident. That includes financial compensation to cover your:
- medical bills, including the bills for reasonably anticipated medical expenses in the future,
- lost wages and other income,
- reduced earning capacity, if the incident left you disabled or unable to make as much as you could before,
- pain and suffering,
- property damage, and
- loss of consortium for your family.
A personal injury attorney from a reputable law firm can help you recover that compensation by filing a negligent security lawsuit.
If the lack of security led to a fatality, a negligent security lawyer can help the victim’s family members and loved ones file a wrongful death claim.
- See California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) No. 1005.
- Janice H. v. 696 North Robertson, LLC, 1 Cal.App.5th 586 (2016).
- Wiener v. Southcoast Childcare Centers, Inc., 32 Cal.4th 1138 (2004).
- Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center, 6 Cal.4th 666 (1993).
- Isaacs v. Huntington Memorial Hospital, 38 Cal.3d 112 (1985).
- See Castaneda v. Olsher, 41 Cal.4th 1205 (2007).
- Taylor v. Centennial Bowl, Inc., 65 Cal.2d 114 (1966).