negligent security injury

What Is Negligent Security?

Business owners have an obligation to keep their customers and visitors safe. This duty extends to keeping the floors clean and dry, so you do not trip and fall and maintaining walkways and guardrails.

What many people do not realize, however, is that the duty to keep customers and visitors safe can also extend to keeping you safe against the actions of other people. That means that if you are robbed, assaulted, or otherwise harmed on someone else’s property, you may have a claim for negligent security against the property owner.

Duty to Provide Security

A property owner who invites guests onto his or her property has a responsibility to provide guests with basic security. This includes simple preventative measures to prevent crime. While not all crime can ever be completely prevented, business owners are obligated to make an effort to deter crime. Common items associated with preventing crime include:

  • Installing lights in parking lots or other open locations
  • Using security cameras
  • Silent alarm access for employees
  • A sign that indicates limited amounts of cash in the register
  • Limiting access with key cards or guards

The duty to provide sufficient security is often associated with the knowledge that similar incidents have previously occurred, or a business is located in a higher crime area. In those cases, the business owners may be required to take extra steps to increase security because of the relative amount of crime in the geographical location.

Proving Negligent Security

A successful negligent security case obviously involves proving negligence. The standard for negligence is that the person or entity at fault did not act reasonably in a particular situation.

The business must take reasonable measures to protect its visitors or guests. In areas that have higher crime rates, having increased protections are reasonable. In other regions, basic protections may be enough.

In some cases, however, the property owner takes no action to keep their property safe. This is particularly true for some apartment complexes. These cases are especially egregious and often result in successful negligent security claims.

Every successful negligent security claim must prove the following four items:

  1. The defendant property owner has a duty to ensure the safety of guests or visitors. This requirement is generally easy to meet because this is true of virtually every property owner. In some situations, a property owner will hire this type of service out; however, that usually does not affect the fact that it is still their duty.
  2. The second thing that you must show is that the obligation to provide security was somehow breached. It could be that a vital aspect of the security was missing or that something or someone was not doing a job properly.
  3. The breach of the duty ultimately must have caused your injuries or damages. This is typically proven by showing that the failure to act reasonably created an environment where the criminal assailant felt comfortable committing a crime.
  4. You must have suffered actual injuries. You must show that you were physically or mentally injured because of the failure to provide proper security measures.

In Georgia, juries may apportion a percentage of fault to the criminal.  This means that a jury could find the property owners 50% at fault and the criminal 50% at fault.  This normally means that you will recover 50% of your total damages because most criminals do not have the financial resources to satisfy a substantial judgment.

Negligent security claims are far more common than most people realize. If you feel that you may have a claim after an assault, robbery, or other third-party action, contact Williams Elleby Howard & Easter at 833-LEGALGA today to set up an appointment.

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