Property owners have a responsibility to correct any hazards on their grounds that could potentially cause injuries to visitors. While the most common dangers are tripping and slipping hazards, the dangers on public and private property can go far beyond falls. If an owner fails to ensure safe passage to, from, and inside their property, a victim could suffer a violent crime with severe or even fatal injuries.
Owners May Be Liable for Deaths Caused by Negligent Security
Under premises liability law, property owners can be held liable for injuries and financial damages that visitors suffer due to negligence. Security negligence can occur on public or private property, including hotels, bars, government buildings, apartments, workplaces, and college campuses.
An owner should take reasonable security steps to prevent violent acts and other injuries, including:
- Adequate monitoring. Property owners have a duty to install adequate security cameras in areas that require careful monitoring or are hidden from view. This can include dressing rooms, elevators, alleys, or parking lots and structures. Even if security cameras have been installed, a property owner could be liable if a broken security camera is not fixed quickly or someone is not watching the footage in real time.
- Locks and alarms. A proper commercial security system relies on adequate locking mechanisms on doors, emergency exits, and functional security alarms. Any defects in one part of a security system can lead to a total failure to protect the public (such as providing working smoke alarms but blocking emergency exits).
- Security guards. Owners have a duty to determine when security guards are necessary to protect the premises. Depending on the location, night security employees can be just as vital to safety in shopping malls and office buildings as they are in bars and nightclubs. Security personnel negligence can take many forms, including failure to hire security guards, hiring guards who fail to respond appropriately in an emergency, hiring security guards who fail to do their regular rounds or escort employees after hours, or failing to perform background checks on security personnel.
- Physical barriers. Owners may need to install privacy fencing or tall barriers to make the premises less attractive to potential criminals. A failure to lock gates or allowing a broken fence to exist on the property could both be forms of negligence.
- Lighting. Poorly lit areas are more likely to play host to accidents as well as criminal activity. Darkness can make it difficult for an employee to keep his footing in a stairwell, but also less likely for him to be noticed by a guard after his fall. A broken lamppost outside a store can provide a dark corner for an employee assault.
- Safety training. On commercial properties, employees should be trained on the most common causes of injury due to lax security, proper procedures for entering and exiting the property safely, and what to do if an employee or customer is hurt in a security emergency.
How Can I Prove the Owner Was at Fault?
In order to win your case, you will be expected to prove that the property owner breached the duty of care. In other words, the owner knew or should have known that there was a defect in the security system that directly led to your loved one’s death. Proof of negligent security can be particularly difficult since there is no hard and fast rule about how long an owner has to correct a dangerous condition.
When someone is killed due to negligent security, property owners and commercial insurance companies will do everything they can to deny or reduce liability. This can include blaming the accident on your loved one or offering you far less than the value of your losses in your settlement. Your best chance at a positive outcome is to get a wrongful death attorney working on your case as soon as possible.
The legal team at GriffithLaw will do everything possible to secure a settlement that will allow you to move on with your lives. Contact us today through our online form or give us a call at (615) 807-7900 to have us explain your next steps at no cost to you.