In American law, there's a fairly broad set of circumstances where owners of properties may be liable for injuries others suffer at their locations. Slip and fall accidents at stores represent the most easily understood version of this principle which is commonly known as premises liability. This is, frankly, bread-and-butter work for the typical personal injury attorney.
You might wonder, however, whether premises liability applies to incidents where security was lax. A personal injury lawyer may tell you it does not, but there may be a different legal argument for still pursuing a claim. This legal concept is called negligent security. Take a look at its implications in injury law.
Why It's Not Premises Liability
The fact that a lack of security doesn't fall under premises liability can seem a little weird at first. After all, how can someone liable for the premises not be liable for the security problems at those premises?
In law, premises liability tends to cover preventable defects on the property that endanger other people. Suppose a railing along a second-story walkway hadn't been repaired after repeated complaints. Further, suppose someone was hurt because of it. That's a fairly clear-cut premises liability case.
Liability for actions taken by another party on the premises is usually assigned to the offending party. If someone gets into a bar fight, for example, it's not normally assumed that the owner or manager of the bar had a duty to prevent the fight from happening.
One major legal exception exists. When a location has developed a reputation for repeated security issues, the property owner is expected to remedy the problem. It's one thing for a bar fight to occur once a year. It's another thing for a bar to be the place where fights break out a couple of times every weekend.
There is always a slightly gray area within negligent security law. When does it become negligent for a property owner to not step up security? Do fights need to occur every weekend or every day?
Most states use a reasonableness standard rather than a hard number. Generally, the police have to document the pattern of security concerns at the location. With the advent of cellphone pictures and videos, though, it may be possible for a personal injury attorney to make a case without police reports. If a reasonable individual would be bothered by the threats at a place, then the owners might be found liable for negligent security in relation to incidents that occurred there.
To learn more, contact a personal injury attorney today.