Negligent security is the failure to exercise reasonable care in providing security or protection to patrons in a commercial venue. It is a theory of premises liability where a property owner is held accountable for a patron’s injuries suffered in the midst of a criminal act on the owner’s property. An injured patron may recover money damages for negligent security by proving:
– The owner had a legal duty to protect people invited to enter the property, such as customers or tenants, or to warn them of specific dangers.
– The owner breached the duty to protect customers or tenants from criminal acts.
– The breach was the proximate cause of the injury suffered (but for the breach, the injury would not have occurred).
– The customer or tenant suffered damages as a result of the breach.
Foreseeability is the critical element in premises liability cases, as courts question whether the property owner “knew or should have known” about potential security breaches. Essentially, if a particular crime is likely to occur on the owner’s property, he or she has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the crime from happening, and to protect patrons who would be likely victims.
Hotel parking lots are prime examples. It is likely that a hotel customer could be assaulted in a poorly lit, unsupervised lot. As such, the hotel would have a duty to make sure the lot had adequate lighting, that hotel security routinely patrolled it and that panic buttons were installed and in good working order.
If you have been injured or assaulted on commercial property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and advise you of your rights and options.