Negligent security cases are complicated. In these cases, the theory is that the defendant controlled the premises; therefore, they had a duty to protect the property’s visitor from criminal acts.
The catch, however, is that the business establishment is only liable for reasonably foreseeable criminal acts. If they fail to place proper security measures for those foreseeable acts, then the law states the business owner is responsible if visitors to the property are injured.
What is Reasonably Foreseeable?
To prove that a crime was foreseeable, your injury attorney must first show that the business owner knew, or should have known, that the crime could occur on their property. This is a critical part of your case, because if you cannot prove that they should have reasonably known, then you have no basis for a negligent security claim.
In a negligent security case, proving that they “should have known” about a potential criminal act typically means presenting evidence of past crimes. Also, the time between when the past crimes occurred and when the victim was injured plays a role. If it has been years since any similar crimes occurred, then the owner might have an argument they would not have reasonably known that the risk still existed.
Equally important is the proximity of those past crimes to the victim’s injury. If the crimes occurred miles away, even if they happened daily, it is less likely that an owner would reasonably think their property was at risk for a similar offense. If, however, it was just a few blocks away, the owner should have reasonably suspected their property was at risk.
How Similar Are the Crimes?
One debate in these types of cases revolves around the similarity of the previous crimes to the current crime. In other words, how similar do the past and present crimes have to be – in and on surrounding properties – in order to have a viable argument that the defendant should have known there was a risk.
For example, prior instances of vandalism would not make it reasonable to assume that violent crime would occur on that same property – because vandalism is not a violent act. Having such a narrow definition of what is similar makes the burden of proof for the victim much higher.
Most courts apply the narrow definition. But some courts are moving away from such narrow views and considering any crime in an area to constitute a “risk” to public safety for nearby properties too. Dissimilar crimes could be enough to necessitate that a property owner provide their patrons with adequate security.
The Criminal Act and the Lack of Security
The lack of security must correlate with the type of criminal activity that injured the victim. For example, if a parking lot has had frequent armed robberies in the past, but the owner did not install adequate lights, security cameras, or security personnel in the lot – and someone was robbed – that would be an example of negligent security.
In this case, it is evident that the chances of being attacked or robbed would be minimized had the owner installed cameras or increased parking lot lighting – giving criminals less opportunity to find victims.
Proving Negligence is Difficult – Contact an Injury Lawyer in Savannah
Proving a negligent security case is incredibly complicated. Not only does it require a thorough understanding of the law, but you will need access to crime reports, maintenance records, and other documentation that is not available to the public.
While you are recovering from your injuries, the last thing you need to worry about is paperwork and hunting down evidence.
Instead, contact personal injury atorney Clarke Nash. He knows how difficult it is to prove these types of cases, but he has vast experience in negotiations and handling insurance companies. Speak with him today for a free consultation at 912-200-5292, or request your meeting online.