You don’t expect bad things to happen when you leave your home. If you did, you would never leave the house! There is an unspoken trust that we have with each other and businesses that if we go into a public space, we will be safe. However, in law, this is not just an unspoken rule; it’s an entire area of tort law called “premises liability.”
Property owners could be held liable for injuries or deaths sustained on their property if the owner’s failure to provide a reasonable degree of security contributed to the injury or death. If you believe your injuries result from a failure to provide a reasonable degree of security, you may have a viable claim for negligent security. Contact MG Law today.
What Is Negligent Security?
Georgia law requires property owners and managers to keep their property safe. In a negligent security case, a victim can file a claim against a business or property owner if someone committed a crime against you on the property because the owner failed to provide adequate protection. If the harm you received was preventable had the property owner had done their due diligence by putting reasonable security measures in place, you may have a viable security negligence case. Some of the places where negligent security incidents happen include:
- Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs;
- Gas stations;
- Schools and universities;
- Parks and playgrounds;
- Parking garages and parking lots;
- Apartment buildings; and
- Shopping centers.
Negligent security claims can arise with all types of premises, such as residential or commercial property, whether publicly or privately owned.
How to Prove Negligent Security
The first step after an injury is to seek medical attention. The next step is to build a premises liability case based on negligence. To accomplish this, it’s important to preserve any evidence of the incident by taking pictures or videos of your injuries, as well as the place where you were hurt. Documentation of things like lighting conditions and cameras (or the lack thereof) can help support your negligent security claim.
In all negligence claims, you must prove four things: (1) there was a duty of care, (2) the duty of care was breached, (3) the breach resulted in your injuries, and (4) you sustained damages due to your injuries.
Duty of Care
In Georgia, a premises liability statute defines the duty of care. The statute requires property owners and occupiers to keep their premises safe for those who are legally “invited, inducted, or led” onto their property. Essentially, any person with permission to be on the property would fall under the statute.
If you did not have permission to be on the property and were trespassing, the buck stops there. You will likely not be entitled to compensation absent rare and extenuating circumstances.
Breach of the Duty of Care
For those legally allowed on the premises, you must prove that the owner or occupier breached their duty. For the owner or occupier to breach their duty, they must have actual or constructive knowledge about the potentially dangerous condition.
Actual knowledge is seeing the hazard, while constructive knowledge means they should have reasonably known about the hazard. Constructive knowledge may be proven where a similar incident occurred in the past, and the owner was aware of it but did nothing to prevent it from occurring again.
Keep in mind that the duty of care requires preventive measures to be reasonable. Just because a business could have done more to prevent an incident, does not automatically mean it breached its duty of care. For example, even if large corporations tend to hire security for their premises, it is not common for a small business to do the same. It’s not reasonable for every individual business to pay that extra cost.
The Breach Resulted in Your Injuries
The criminal act committed against you on the property must have resulted from the property owner or business’s negligence. Otherwise, you’ll be unable to demonstrate that they were responsible for what happened.
You are also required to exercise ordinary care in avoiding dangerous conditions that are obvious and easily avoidable. Your claim will need to show that you could not have reasonably avoided the hazard without the property owner remedying it or warning you about it.
Damages from Your Injuries
Besides proving that the owner or occupier negligence contributed to the criminal actions, you’ll need to demonstrate that you suffered damages because of those injuries.
As an injury victim, the burden is on you to provide evidence of negligence. You must show that the owner or occupier’s negligent security “more likely than not” led to the crime, your injuries, and resulting damages. Proving the extent of your damages is discussed below.
Examples of Negligent Security
Examples giving rise to negligent security claims include:
- A general lack of security, including improperly locked doors, unmonitored access to the property, and unpatrolled areas;
- Irresponsible or inadequate training or staffing, including guards who don’t make proper rounds, security guards asleep on the job, or a gatehouse with no guard at all;
- Inadequate equipment, including broken windows, broken doors, broken locks, or malfunctioning security cameras;
- Overgrown landscaping that might obscure monitoring equipment or create hiding places;
- Broken emergency warning systems, like metal detectors or alarms; and
- Inadequate monitoring or screening, including failing to search for weapons.
A negligent security lawsuit could run in tandem with a criminal case against the perpetrator of a violent crime. The offender would face prosecution from the state as well as civil action from the victim, but the victim could also have grounds for a claim against the property owner if negligent security contributed to their damages. If you or someone in your family was the victim of a crime, you might want to consider if negligent security played a role in the situation. Some crimes that may result in negligent security claims include murder, sexual crimes, assault and battery, and shootings.
Common Negligent Security Issues at Commercial Properties
Property owners, lessees, managers, or a negligent security firm could all be responsible for the injuries you or a loved one suffered due to a crime on their property. You could potentially sue the responsible parties and recover compensation if the following situations resulted in injuries and damages.
- An apartment complex owner fails to fix the keycard reader on one of the entrances, allowing anyone to enter the building even if they do not possess keycards. Someone enters the building and assaults a tenant.
- A property owner hires security guards to keep the premises safe, but a guard with no training falls asleep on the job and allows a robbery to occur.
- A property owner purchases security cameras but cannot afford to properly wire or install software for them, so the owner simply installs them to provide the appearance of security camera coverage. A visitor to the property later suffers a violent assault and there is no CCTV footage of what occurred due to the owner’s faulty camera arrangement
Apartment complexes can be a breeding ground for negligent security. Illuminating dark areas, replacing broken lights, and properly training and vetting employees (especially those with access to individual apartments) are all reasonable steps an apartment complex should take to keep its residents safe.
Negligent Security Issues at a Concert
If you attended a concert and were the victim of a preventable crime during the event, you may have the right to file a claim and seek compensation. Venues, concert performers, and other business partners, like the production company, may not consider the appropriate precautions needed to house the events which could lead to a negligent security claim.
Examples of negligent security at a concert include:
- Failure to hire enough security personnel,
- Poorly trained security personnel,
- Failure to search concert goers for banned weapons or illegal contraband, and
- Inadequate equipment like malfunctioning metal detectors.
A lack of preparation on behalf of the performer’s team, the venue, or any other related parties may be held liable if a crime occurred as a result of their negligent security and someone was injured as a result.
What Damages Can You Sue for with Negligent Security?
A minor injury may not leave you with any damages, but a more serious injury as a result of a preventable, violent crime can lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills, many missed workdays, and emotional trauma. You may be compensated for all these losses in a negligent security case. Other common damages include:
- Prescription medications,
- Counseling or therapy from emotional trauma,
- Physical therapy,
- Property damage, and
- Pain and suffering.
It’s important that you keep track of all the losses you experience because of the incident, as you may be entitled to recover the costs.
Covington Negligent Security Lawyers Can Help
If you were the victim of a crime on someone else’s property, it doesn’t automatically mean that you have a premises liability claim worth pursuing. It is good to consult with a Covington negligent security attorney to determine if you have a viable case. The attorneys at MG Law exclusively focus on personal injury and have been included on the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list. Contact us today for a free consultation.