Robberies, assaults and other violent crimes can happen just about anywhere — but some places are more likely to attract that kind of criminal activity than others. Hotel guests, for example, can be targeted by thieves and gangs. Convenient store parking lots can be breeding grounds for criminal activity. Virtually any business that operates late-night hours, whether that’s a restaurant or a bar, can attract people that don’t always behave appropriately. If violence ensues, it’s a problem.
In general, property owners aren’t expected to be liable for third-party acts of violence unless they could reasonably anticipate such occurrences. In those cases, property owners are expected to take reasonable steps to keep their visitors safe from harm. When they don’t exert any of their power to mitigate a known or obvious risk to their visitors, that may be considered negligent or inadequate security.
What are some possible example of negligent security? Consider these:
- A motel manager is aware that there have been several robberies and assaults in the neighborhood. Crime levels are rising, but they don’t want the expense of hiring a security guard so they conceal the problem from their guests. Then, one gets badly hurt in an attempted robbery in the parking lot.
- A bar owner is aware that the place is frequented by a known drug dealer and that fights with rivals have already broken out. They take no steps to control the situation and add no security and an innocent patron later gets caught in the crossfire.
- A hotel is aware that their security cameras are largely “for show” because they’re too old and the locks on their room doors are easy to force. A hotel guest is raped in her room.
- You and a few members of your team are frequently stuck working on projects through the night. The security guard employed by your company is pretty lax and occasionally falls asleep. One night, you’re beaten and robbed on the way to your car.
Negligent security claims fall under premises liability laws. If you believe that your injuries and losses on someone else’s property were foreseeable and preventable with a little extra care, you may have a case.