Negligent Security Can Lead to Serious Injury or Death
What exactly is negligent security, as it relates to the justice system? It falls under the scope of premises liability. Property owners have a duty to keep their spaces safe for visitors, including preventing slips and falls and similar injuries. But negligent security takes that a step further and argues that if a property owner doesn’t provide sufficient security and a visitor is the victim of a crime, the property owner could be held liable.
To prove negligent security, the victim must show that the property owner failed to provide whatever level of protection necessary for the property, and demonstrate that it was specifically this lack of security that caused their injuries. The bottom line: the owner or property manager KNOWINGLY fails to provide proper security to their visitors.
Recently, a $4.2 million settlement was reached in a negligent security lawsuit against a realty management company after one of their senior vice-presidents admitted that the security of visitors on the property was not their number one priority. In this case, Dwight Higgins was shot and killed during an attempted robbery at an apartment complex. The complex had a long history of violent and nonviolent crime, including three shootings in the three months leading to Higgins’ death. But the consequences of sloppy security can be found anywhere and everywhere:
- Apartment complexes or dorms with broken locks or little to no security.
- Violence incidents at nightclubs or bars with no security guards and no security procedures for employees.
- Attacks or incidents in a parking lot, ramp, or garage where cameras are disabled or nonexistent, facilities fail to employ someone to patrol, or the space is poorly lit.
- Injuries to attendees at a concert, sports match, or another entertainment event because of overcrowding and poor access to safety exits. See: Astroworld Festival crowd crush, the Station Nightclub fire, or the City College stadium stampede.
- Healthcare workers harassed and assaulted by patients who are known to be violent. In one case, a doctor was stabbed repeatedly by a psychiatric patient until she managed to flee. The doctor’s lawyers said no one on staff alerted hospital security or seemed to know how to respond to a violent incident. No guards were stationed on the floor, and there were no panic buttons in or just outside the patient’s room.
- Property owners
- State or municipal governments
- Security companies
- Property management companies
- Landscaping companies
- Parking lot management companies
If you have been injured or attacked due to negligent security, the first step is to get to safety and make sure any injuries are treated. Here are some next steps:
Call the police or 911. Ask for a copy of the incident report while the police are still on the scene.
Depending on where the incident took place, a security officer, store manager, or another official may also file an incident report. Ask the security officer and/or store manager for a copy of their incident reports before leaving.
DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING until you’ve spoken to a lawyer who represents you. This includes incident reports and anything from the property owner’s insurance company.
Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you avoid exposing yourself to unnecessary legal risk and advise you on your legal options.
Take photos or videos at the site of the incident. Photos showing your injuries or your surroundings at the time of the incident can be helpful in legal proceedings. A security review conducted after the fact may not correctly reflect the conditions at the time you were hurt. (For example, a poorly lit parking lot will not seem as threatening if photographed during the day versus during a stormy night.)
If there are other witnesses to the incident, get their names and contact information.