Property owners must take reasonable steps to protect guests and visitors from foreseeable criminal activity under premises liability laws. When a criminal attacks someone on a commercial property, whether it’s a shooting, stabbing, sexual assault, or some other violent attack, the victim may file a premises liability claim against the property owner for failing to implement adequate security measures. Negligent or inadequate security claims are personal injury claims resulting from violent attacks due to a lack of security, and this is how someone can seek damages after they're attacked on a business property.

What Level of Security is Required on a Property?

image showing dark common area which is the definition of inadequate securityEssentially, the issue of negligent security or inadequate security arises when a person gets injured or killed because a property owner failed to exercise reasonable care to protect guests and patrons from attacks on the property, even though the property owner should have known that such criminal attacks could occur. In other words, the victim was attacked due to inadequate security on the property or the landowner's failure to implement reasonable security measures. In these cases, the issue often arises: "What is reasonable security?"

The types of security measures that would be considered "reasonable" under the circumstances will vary, based upon a number of factors, which include things like:

  • Whether prior similar crimes have occurred on the property;
  • The overall criminal history on the property;
  • The incidents of crime in the area around the property where the attack occurred;
  • The degree to which the landowner knew or should have known about crime on the property.

The lack of security measures will often be weighed against the overall dangerousness of the property. Accordingly, the more dangerous the property, the more steps a landowner should take to secure the property. This makes sense; more dangerous properties are more dangerous to guests and thus require more security measures to protect guests.

What Are Some Examples of Inadequate Security?

infographic showing the common issues in inadequate security or negligent security casesThe law gives us examples of inadequate security through past negligent security cases, and this helps us to understand the types of things that could form the basis of a negligent security claim. In other words, personal injury attorneys can look at an inadequate security lawsuit in a database and study the facts to help pinpoint the types of things that a court might consider to be negligent security. Some of the more common issues in negligent security cases are:

  • Malfunctioning gates at apartment complexes;
  • Poor lighting in parking lots or parking garages;
  • Landscaping that creates opportunities for attacks;
  • No security camera in a common area;
  • Insufficient staff or no security at a dangerous hotel or motel;
  • No security personnel patrolling the property;
  • Improperly trained security guards;
  • Too few security guards for the size of the property or the number of people on the property;
  • Lack of proper signage;
  • Lack of proper alarm systems;
  • No locks or malfunctioning locks;
  • Lack of properly secured doors or windows;
  • No process for stopping trespassers from entering the property;
  • Lack of security checkpoints at bars and nightclubs;
  • No security cameras and/or poor lighting at a gas station;
  • No security or cameras at a car wash;
  • No security at a convenience store with a history of robbery;
  • Improper visibility or blocked visibility on the property or building.
The list above is not comprehensive, and any situation where a landowner fails to provide adequate security at a business with a history of crime could be considered negligence, depending on the facts of the case. Overall, premises liability lawyers and negligent security lawyers will gather evidence to determine whether the landowner breached its duty to offer guests and patrons a premises that is safe.