Inadequate security enables many crimes that result in injuries and even deaths. When a building, complex of buildings, or the surrounding property is not maintained with security measures that are appropriate, individuals on the property are vulnerable to people who would do them harm. The person injured or killed may be a guest on the property, a shopper, a business invitee such as a gas company worker, an employee of the business, a tenant, or any other person on the property.
It’s the legal duty of the owner or proprietor of a building or complex of buildings to maintain adequate security for the people who visit or live on the premises. The building(s) may house one or more businesses that are open to the public or provide housing to tenants. Inadequate security may be a factor in numerous settings, including:
Crimes and injuries are made possible by inadequate security conditions such as poor lighting, inappropriate or poorly trained personnel, and faulty or absent locks/security mechanisms.
Examples of crimes made possible by inadequate security may include:
A property owner may be held liable for a crime if there has been a pattern of crime on or around the property, or if the nature of the businessat the site makes it particularly susceptible to criminal activity (gun shops and liquor stores, for example). In such cases, the owner may be found by a court to have a legal duty to use reasonable security measures designed to prevent or deter crimes, such as:
If the property owner is found by the court to have known about the pattern of crime or the special nature of the business yet did not provide adequate security, the owner may be found liable for the injuries or death at the site.
The determination of what “adequate security” is at a given site is not always easy. Every site is unique, every community is different and can change with time, and widely varying standards of security are expected of large corporations such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks compared to those expected of “mom-and-pop” businesses. The unique circumstances of a given injury or fatality should be considered by an experienced premises liability attorney.
If a person is injured or killed and the site of the incident had inadequate security, the losses and damages incurred may be compensated for by the building or property owner. Recoverable costs include medical care and rehabilitation, lost work time and damaged earning capacity — and when there has been a death, funeral and burial costs and the loss of companionship and support.
If inadequate security enabled an injury or death in your family, contact a qualified attorney today to discuss your case and explore your legal options.