Imagine that you are standing in line at a convenience store, preparing to pay for a candy bar. All of a sudden, a masked assailant comes into the store, brandishes a firearm, and demands money. You end up being shot in the leg during the encounter and incur large medical bills as a result. 

When you walked into the store, you never imagined that you would be the victim of a crime. The store owner, however, has a duty to understand that an incident like this could happen and a further duty to take action to protect patrons from being victims.

What can you do to help pay your bills after an incident where you were not protected on a property or at a store? You can bring a lawsuit called a negligent security claim. Negligent security claims are lawsuits that are brought against business or property owners when inadequate security causes a guest to become injured or killed. 

When the business or property owner knows or should have known about a threat to safety, and if the property or business owner does not do anything to increase protection against known threats, they can be held liable. Read on to learn more about what these claims entail and how to prove these claims.

How Can Negligent Security Claims Arise?

Negligent security claims are difficult cases to prove because the fact patterns are typically pretty unique. What this means is that no one negligent security claim is like another. Part of this just stems from the variety of locations where negligent security instances may occur. Here are some of the possible places in which instances of negligent security could take place:

  • Hotels
  • Parking Garages
  • Restaurants
  • Banks
  • Shopping Centers
  • Playgrounds
  • Workplaces
  • Bars
  • Factories
  • Schools 
  • Hospitals 

What is a Foreseeable Criminal Attack?

Attorneys arguing that there was a negligent security claim must show that the criminal attack was foreseeable to the property or store owner. There is no way for anyone to determine for sure that there will be a criminal attack. Still, property owners have a duty to understand that threats to the public could happen on their premises. They must consider that and then take action to protect the public from threats to their safety.

If a business sells high-value items or has a lot of cash, it should understand that they are more likely to be targeted in an attack. Additionally, if there is a history of criminal activity in or by the property, it would be reasonable to suppose that a customer or employee might be harmed by a similar criminal act.

Qualified negligent security attorneys will be able to obtain proof of previous crimes at the premises or in the surrounding areas. Negligent security lawyers can speak to law enforcement and determine whether calls to the police were made about previous crimes on the premises or in the surrounding area. Additionally, a lawyer could make an argument that the crime rate in the area around the property meant that the property owner should have known that crime was probable.

What is “Constructive Knowledge” that an Incident Could Occur?

Attorneys representing clients in negligent security cases must show that there was a risk of criminal activity occurring at the establishment and that the property or business owner had “constructive knowledge” that an incident may occur. There are two types of knowledge: actual knowledge and constructive knowledge. Actual knowledge means that a person actually knows something. Constructive knowledge means that they really should have known something but did not. Even though they did not know something, they are legally presumed to know it. That is, if a property or business owner should have known that criminal activity could have happened, then they are legally presumed to know that it would have happened, even if they in fact did not.

What Are Some of the Crimes That Could Trigger a Lawsuit?

There is really no limit to the type of crime causing bodily harm that can occur in these instances. Here are just some examples:

  • Armed Robberies
  • Battery
  • Assaults
  • Sexual Assaults
  • Mass Shootings
  • Murder 

What Actions or Inactions Could Show That Negligent Security Occurred?

There are many circumstances where negligent security happened. Here are a few examples where property and business owners have been held liable in the past:

  • No security guards on site 
  • Untrained or poorly trained security guards 
  • Broken fences
  • Doors that cannot be locked 
  • No alarm system
  • No security cameras present
  • Security systems or cameras that are nonfunctional
  • No lighting 

Time May Be of the Essence

Acting quickly is important in negligent security cases. There are statutory deadlines for filing for personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, including negligent security claims. If you are suing a government entity, that window may shrink considerably. Thus, it is important to act quickly. Contact a negligent security lawyer as soon as possible so that you can file the necessary paperwork before the deadlines. Additionally, it is best to file the suit as soon as possible so that you can have as much access to evidence as possible. This includes witness testimony–witnesses will have a fresher memory the closer to the incident that they testify. Also, any evidence in the scene or surrounding area should be processed.

What Should You Do If You Have Been Injured On Another’s Property?

If you have been harmed on another person’s property, and you believe that it is the result of negligent security, hire a competent attorney well-versed in negligent security cases. It is important to note that these are notoriously tricky cases to win due to unique fact patterns. Fortunately, the founder of our firm has been researching and studying these types of claims since 2007. Combined with an excellent reputation, our firm gives you a great chance of recovering in a negligent security claim.