When a person gets attacked on a business property by a criminal, it’s often because the property had inadequate security measures in place to protect guests and visitors. Furthermore, the properties where these types of criminal attacks occur often have a long history of criminal activity leading up to the attack at issue. When a landowner ignores violent crime and does not put property security measures in place, and then a guest on the property gets attacked, the landowner, as well as other parties, may be held liable under the theory of negligent security.

However, it’s not just the landowner that can be held liable for a negligent security personal injury or wrongful death claim. Anyone who was in control of the property or who had decision making authority may be held liable. Each potentially liable party may have a separate insurance policy, and thus it’s critical to assess liability at the outset of any negligent security case to uncover insurance that might be available to cover the victim’s damages.

How Do You Prove Negligent Security?

type of property that could be held liable for negligent securityNegligent security is a type of premises liability law. It's a claim brought by victims of violent crime against a property owner or other liable party for injuries suffered as a result of a criminal attack. Landowners in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and many other states owe guests and patrons a duty of care. In other words, property owners and businesses owe a duty to guests and visitors to take reasonable steps to protect them from known hazards or hazards the landowner should know about.

The “breach of the duty of care” or the negligent act or omission at issue in these cases is often the issue of inadequate security. When a landowner does not implement security measures, and then a visitor gets hurt, the breach of care is the failure to implement reasonable security measures.

The big issue in these negligent security cases is the issue of “foreseeability.” The defendant in these cases is often going to argue that they had no reason to know that the victim would be attacked by a criminal, and it was thus out of their control. However, your negligent security lawyer can rebut this argument with evidence of prior criminal acts on the property or in the surrounding area.

Another big issue in these cases is causation. In other words, was the failure to implement reasonable security measures a cause of the victim’s attack? So, let’s say someone gets attacked in a dark parking lot. Well, a clear security issue that could be the cause of the attack is the failure of the landlord or business to put up adequate lights.

The final issue is damages. A claimant must have suffered damages in any type of negligence claim. However, because negligent security or inadequate security cases often involve shootings, stabbings, sexual assaults, and other heinous acts, damages are rarely at issue.

When a victim (through their negligent security attorney) can establish a viable negligent security claim, they can get compensation for things like medical bills and pain and suffering.

Where Do These Violent Criminal Attacks Usually Happen?

Infographic showing the 5 most dangerous types of commercial propertiesViolent criminal attacks happen on all sorts of business properties when businesses and landowners fail to provide adequate security. According to 2022 FBI violent crime data, some of the more common business properties where these attacks occur include the following:

Who Can Be Held Liable for Negligent Security?

Now that we’ve talked about negligent security claims in general, we can move into a discussion about potentially liable parties. So, who can be held liable when a person gets attacked by a criminal on a business property?

The answer to this question will involve an analysis into the 4 big elements of negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Any person or business entity that owed the victim a duty of care and breached that duty of care, which resulted in the victim suffering damages, could potentially be liable for negligent security. Some of the parties that are most often liable for negligent security include the following:

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all possible defendants. However, the above list makes up a significant portion of liable parties in a typical negligent security case.

What Are Some of the Big Ticket Issues in Negligent Security?

Property owners have a duty to implement reasonable security measures to protect guests and visitors. What is considered reasonable? Well, that all depends on the issue of foreseeability. In other words, where there is a ton of violent crime on a property, the burden to implement more security measures is higher than it is when a property hasn't experienced crime in the past.

Some of the more common types of "reasonable security measures" include the following:

  • Hiring security guards
  • Putting up security cameras
  • Having functioning gates
  • Making sure areas have sufficient lighting
  • Keeping enough staff on duty
  • Installing security systems and alarms
  • Maintaining functioning locks on doors
  • Maintaining functioning locks on windows

Each property will have a unique history, and thus there is no "one size fits all" solution to security. Premises liability lawsuits look at the hazard and the cost of protecting guests. The law doesn't require landowners to spend a fortune to implement the perfect solution every time; they're just required to do what's reasonable under the circumstances. When they don't and a guest gets hurt, the guest may be able to file a lawsuit and recoup money for their damages.