Proving Negligent Security

Premises liability is generally difficult to prove, and in most cases the plaintiff is found to have been at least partially to blame for the incident that caused injury. As a result, many premises liability lawsuits end in a largely defense verdict. An exception would be claims of negligent security, which is usually easy to prove based on the presence or absence of security measures.

Particular types of property owners or lessors which license or invite people to be on the premises as a matter of course take on the responsibility of taking steps to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm from coming to their licensees or invitees. These include commercial establishments, apartment buildings, schools, and banks. Typically, this duty is discharged with hiring security personnel or outsourcing the job to a security company, installing closed-circuit cameras, and implementing security checks and policies.

Most cases of negligent security claims purport that if the security measures had been adequate to cope with the risks of harm or injury as indicated by the circumstances surrounding the establishment, the injury or harm would not have occurred. For example, the owner of a bar where patrons frequently engage in physical altercations after a certain level of intoxication should have a policy to cut off obviously inebriated patrons and to have a sufficient number of bouncers to head off any acts of violence. Barroom fights can lead to severe brain injuries.

Liability is dependent on the degree in which harm can be foreseen based on past incidents and the characteristics of the surrounding area and the premises itself. While a fight could erupt without warning in the above example, the bar owner knows or should have known that sudden eruptions of physical violence are a distinct possibility, or foreseeable.

When a licensee or invitee suffers injury or even death because the property owner or lessor was negligent in addressing the risk of harm despite its foreseeability, premises liability may apply. Consult with a negligent security lawyer with a thorough knowledge of the relevant state’s laws on premises liability and have the case assessed.

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