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Negligent Security: How to Determine if You Have a Claim

Dark parking lot, concept of negligent security.

Property owners have a legal obligation to keep their premises reasonably safe for their guests and customers. If you have suffered an injury from an assault on another person’s property, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. When property owners fail to keep their properties reasonably safe, and someone becomes injured, the injured party can pursue a negligent security lawsuit for damages. 

If you suffered injuries because of a lack of security on someone else’s property, it is important to understand your rights. Whether or not you have a claim depends on the facts of your case. Generally speaking, if a property owner or manager caused or contributed to your damages, you would benefit from speaking to an experienced attorney. Atlanta attorney James Rice is here to help. During a complimentary case evaluation, he will listen to the facts in your case and help you understand whether you have a valid negligent security claim. Contact James Rice today to schedule your free case evaluation. 

What is Negligent Security?

Negligent security, sometimes called premises security, is a legal cause of action. Victims can bring a negligent security lawsuit against property owners when they have been injured on their property because of a lack of reasonable security. Most negligent security cases involve an injury caused by a violent attack. Examples of criminal activity that could result in injuries include armed robberies, assault, battery, mass shootings, sexual assault, and murder.

For example, suppose a customer is assaulted in a dark parking lot due to a lack of reasonable security. In that case, the victim can pursue a negligent security claim against the parking lot owner. Personal injury victims commonly file negligent security lawsuits against the property owners and managers of a wide range of properties, including the following:

  • Shopping malls
  • Apartment complexes
  • Hospitals
  • Retail stores
  • Schools
  • Parking garages. 

Is Negligent Security Different From Inadequate Security?

Proving that you were injured because of inadequate security is insufficient to succeed in a premises liability lawsuit. Proving that a landlord did not have adequate security is just the beginning of negligent security cases. In addition to proving that the security was inadequate, the plaintiff also needs to prove that the landlords are legally liable for their damages. Plaintiffs must prove that the property owner or manager was legally required to provide adequate security at the location and failed to provide reasonable security measures. 

In addition to proving that the security was inadequate in your case, you will also need to prove that the landlord acted unreasonably by not providing you with better security measures. Many cases come down to whether or not the security measures that would have prevented the plaintiff’s injuries were reasonable and foreseeable. Proving these elements requires hours of research, interviews, and work with third-party experts. Your attorney will need to gather evidence showing that the owner or operator had constructive knowledge that an incident could occur and failed to take reasonable actions to prevent it from happening.

Elements You Will Need to Prove to Succeed in a Negligent Security Lawsuit

Generally, people do not have a legal duty to protect others from criminal acts by unknown third parties. For example, if a person is walking down the sidewalk and sees another person being assaulted, they will not have a legal obligation to take action. However, property owners have a legal duty to use reasonable care to keep their properties safe for people who come onto their property, as long as they are not trespassers. In Georgia, business owners have a legal duty to provide their customers was reasonable protection from foreseeable criminal activity. 

To succeed in a negligent security case, you must prove that the property owner failed to provide reasonable protection from injury. You also need to prove that the criminal activity that caused your injuries, such as an assault, is considered foreseeable criminal activity. Property owners are not legally responsible for preventing every possible type of criminal activity from occurring on their property. 

However, if they could reasonably foresee that someone would be assaulted in the location where you were injured, you can hold them accountable for a lawsuit. Proving the elements of a negligent security lawsuit requires a thorough investigation into your case. A skilled attorney can investigate the cause of your injuries, whether there have been any other complaints about the assault, and interview witnesses. All of this evidence can help you prove your case.

Did You Enter the Property With the Permission of the Landowner?

Landowners are so different types of legal duties to different types of individuals. For example, landowners do not owe trespassers on their property the same type of legal duties they owe customers or tenants. To recover compensation through a negligent security lawsuit, you must show that you had permission to be on the landowner’s property when the incident that caused your injuries occurred. 

For example, you will need to show that you were a customer or potential customer of a business, a tenant, or a guest of the property owner. Property owners are not obligated to provide trespassers with reasonable protection from foreseeable harm. Trespassers injured on another person’s property by the criminal conduct of a third party will not have a claim for negligent security.

Proving Reasonable Protection

Many negligent security cases hinge on whether the property owner failed to take steps to protect clear customers and guests reasonably. There is no singular rule about what constitutes reasonable protection. Instead, what constitutes reasonable protection depends on the case’s specific facts. Providing reasonable protection may require landowners to utilize the following effectively:

  • Security guards
  • Security cameras
  • Adequate lighting
  • Security hardware, such as locks and gates

Proving Foreseeable Criminal Activity

Additionally, you will need to prove that the criminal activity that caused your injuries was foreseeable to the property owner. Foreseeability means that the owner was put on notice that the type of criminal activity that happened to you was likely to occur on their property. You also need to prove that the landowner failed to take proper precautions to protect people from these specific types of criminal activity that occurred in your case. Georgia courts will determine whether the criminal activity was foreseeable case-by-case.

Substantially Similar Crimes

When a substantially similar crime had previously occurred on the property, you can prove the element of foreseeability. For example, if you were attacked in a dark stairwell in your apartment complex and another tenant had been attacked two weeks ago in the same staircase, you can prove that the crime was foreseeable. When property owners know of prior criminal acts on their premises, it is foreseeable that similar crimes could occur in the future. Landlords are legally responsible for taking precautions to prevent another incident of a similar type of crime from happening on their property.

A Volatile Situation Was Emerging

Proving the foreseeable element can include proving that a volatile situation emerged on the property owner’s premises. For example, a fight may have broken out, or threats may have been made on the property. This type of activity puts the property owner on notice that criminal activity may occur in the near future. The property owner is responsible for abating these types of volatile situations by calling the police, for example, to ensure that people entering the premises remain safe. 

The Incident Occurred in a High-Crime Area

Additionally, plaintiffs can prove the foreseeability element By showing that the premises at which they were injured are a high-crime area. When there is a history of significant criminal activity on and around the property, the property owner has a duty to take necessary precautionary measures to prevent more crime. For example,  the owner of a parking lot located in a safe area without a history of criminal activity may not have a legal duty to install security cameras or hire security personnel. However, suppose the parking lot is located in an area with significant criminal activity, including burglary and assault. In that case, a crime occurring that could hurt a customer will be considered foreseeable to the property owner.

Proving Causation

In addition to approving foreseeability, you need to prove that you were injured due to the owner’s failure to use reasonable security measures. This element is called the causation element and can be challenging to prove. For example, if a person broke into your apartment and stole multiple valuable items, you may recover if you can prove that the lock on your door was faulty. Your claim will be even more persuasive if you can show that you had reported the faulty lock to your landlord, and they had not taken action to fix the problem. In other words, you will need to prove that the landowner’s negligence directly caused the injuries you suffered.

How Much is My Case Worth?

Finally, you will need to prove the elements of damages to recover compensation. Victims of negligent security are entitled to economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include easily quantifiable costs associated with your injury. For example, suppose you were assaulted in a dark parking lot and suffered a concussion,  a broken bone, and lacerations. In that case, you can recover compensation for all the medical expenses you incurred treating those injuries. 

In addition to recovery and compensation for the medical expenses you have already incurred, you can also pursue compensation for your future medical expenses. The more severely a victim has been injured, the more medical expenses they will incur in the future. Attorney James Rice has extensive experience valuing damages for clients who have been injured and negligent security cases. When necessary, he will work with medical and financial experts to carefully estimate the full value of your claim, including your future medical expenses.

Plaintiffs can also recover compensation for property damage and lost income. If you cannot return to work because you have been disabled from your injuries, you can pursue compensation for your lost earning potential. You will also be able to recover compensation for the time off of work you had to take to recover, along with any employee benefits you may have missed because of your injuries.

Damages for Pain and Suffering

Victims of criminal activities can suffer physical injuries and serious mental health challenges after being assaulted. As part of a negligent security lawsuit, you can pursue damages for your anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and suffering, and more. Recovering from being the victim of criminal activity can take time and require ongoing therapy and mental health services. Pursuing a lawsuit can help you recover compensation for all of your noneconomic damages, allowing you to move forward. 

The Best Way to Determine Whether You Have a Claim

As you can see, there are multiple legal elements you will need to prove to recover compensation in a negligent security lawsuit. Understanding the basic elements that make up these types of lawsuits can help you as you move forward. However, the best way to determine whether or not you have a valid negligent security lawsuit is to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. Premises liability lawsuits require an in-depth investigation. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the sooner your attorney can begin gathering and preserving evidence and developing an effective legal strategy for your case.

Schedule a Complimentary, No-Obligation Consultation

Have you or your loved one been injured by criminal activity on another person’s property? If so, you may be entitled to compensation through a negligent security lawsuit. Proving the elements of negligence security can be challenging, and you will benefit from working with an experienced attorney. Atlanta attorney James Rice Will help you understand your legal options and pursue the full and fair amount of compensation you need and deserve. You only have a limited time frame to file a negligent security lawsuit. Contact attorney James Rice today to schedule your free case evaluation and learn more about your legal rights.

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