When you leave your home to go to a public place like a hotel, hospital, or school…or to simply go shopping or visit a friend in their apartment building – you expect to be safe. And most of the time, you are. It is the responsibility of the property owners and managers of these establishments to provide a safe and secure environment for their customers, clients, and guests. As owners, they are expected to take steps to that ensure you do not become a victim of crime, such as a mugging/robbery, assault, or any other kind of crime that could cause harm to you. This is especially true if a crime has already taken place on their property or at their place of business in the past.
In locations where there is a foreseeable likelihood for crimes to happen, owners must take appropriate steps as a precaution for public safety. Those steps include securing windows and doors, employing security professionals and utilizing security cameras.
Other safety measures include providing adequate lighting in stairwells, parking lots and garages, and elevators.
If property owners do not invest in securing their property against criminal activities that may pose a danger to those who enter the property, and someone is hurt as a result of a criminal act there, the injured party has a right to make a civil claim against the owner of the property. This is known as a “negligent security case” under personal injury law. The person injured in the crime can open a claim to recover the financial costs and losses that occurred because of the crime. This type of civil claim requires the victim to show the property owner was ‘negligent’ in the maintenance/security of the property, and thus contributed to the injury. Some common scenarios that demonstrate ‘negligent security’ would include any of the following:
- Poor interior or exterior lighting
- Open gates
- Lack of security measures in areas that are enclosed
- Failing to monitor security systems properly
- Broken or open locks
- No security guards on the property
To determine if an incident on public property occurred as a result of owner negligence, it is best to consult with an experienced negligent security lawyer as soon as possible. The process of a thorough investigation into the incident would determine if there were any lapses in security at the scene of the crime, and would include evaluating the security system, monitoring the environment, interviewing witnesses, establishing if there is a history of crime in the area prior to the event, and a host of other actions ultimately undertaken to prove the owner should have reasonably foreseen that a crime would likely occur.