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Types of Negligent Security Cases

Property owners have a legally recognized duty pertaining to the safety of visitors. In New York, this includes taking minimal precautions to protect tenants or other persons on their property from foreseeable harm, including harm from the foreseeable criminal conduct of third persons.

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When property owners ignore this responsibility and someone is injured as a result, the injured person may sue the owner for negligent security.

Examples of Negligent Security

Individual negligent security cases vary significantly. Consider the following examples:

  • The locks on many doors in an apartment building are not functional. Although several tenants have complained, the landlord made no effort to repair or replace the locks. An armed assailant broke into the building and attacked a tenant in his apartment.
  • A doorman in an apartment building permits a trespasser into a building without following building protocols and that trespasser assaults someone.
  • A spacious bar often brings in live musical acts that attract a large crowd. Sometimes the bar gets overly crowded, or patrons become rowdy, and fights break out. Despite this, the bar’s owners have never employed security guards, and employees are not trained on security procedures. During one altercation, a patron sustained a major head wound and several broken bones.
  • A nursing home does not require visitors to check in and does not use security cameras. A woman who had a tumultuous history with one of the residents entered and became physically aggressive. Two residents were injured.
  • Although the doors to a college dorm require a badge to enter, the doors are routinely propped open for hours at a time. A resident’s ex-boyfriend, who was not a student at the college, entered and sexually assaulted the resident.
  • A hotel with a history of police calls for assault and drug deals installed security cameras to monitor public areas. However, they did not employ anyone to watch the footage, and when cameras were disabled or broken, they were not repaired. A guest is robbed and severely beaten in an elevator.
  • A parking garage owned by the city is poorly lit. There have been several cases of vandalism and theft in the garage, and in the last month, there have been two muggings. One night, a man is stabbed repeatedly by an unknown assailant.

In each of the above, the owners of the property knew, or had good reason to suspect, that the dangerous conditions on their property exposed residents and visitors to unnecessary risk. Their failure to improve security was a significant factor in the injuries.

Types of Establishments That May Be Liable for Negligent Security

Liability for negligent security is not limited to any particular type of location, so the establishments involved may include, but are not limited to:

  • Retail stores, malls, and shopping centers
  • Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs
  • Apartment buildings
  • Hotels/motels
  • Office buildings
  • Event venues (sports stadiums, concert halls, conference centers, etc.)
  • Transit hubs or vehicles
  • Government-owned properties (public housing buildings, public schools, government agency offices, etc.)
  • Care facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, etc.)
  • Schools and universities
  • Parking garages and parking lots

Who Can Be Sued for Negligent Security?

Typically, the owner of the property is responsible for ensuring adequate security. However, if another entity (such as a property manager, landscaper, or commercial tenant) has agreed to take over aspects of a property’s upkeep, that entity may be partially or fully liable as well. The question of who exactly is liable is highly dependent on the specifics of the case and the contractual relationships among defendants.

Under the right circumstances, the following may be liable for negligent security:

  • Property owner
  • State or municipal government
  • Security company
  • Property management company
  • Landscaping company
  • Parking lot management company

If You Have Been Injured Due to Negligent Security

Being the victim of a criminal attack is understandably terrifying, and it can be difficult to know how to react. In a perfect world, a victim would be able to take all the steps below to ensure that they are protected and prepared for the legal aftermath. Of course, the real world is not perfect, and a victim is not always able to check every box.

If you have been injured in a criminal attack, your first priority is to get to safety and ensure that any major injuries are treated. It’s important to seek medical attention promptly, even if you do not believe you have been seriously hurt. The adrenaline rush created by an attack or other traumatic event can reduce your ability to feel pain, so you may not be able to properly gauge the extent of your injuries. Medical documentation of any injuries can also be useful in legal proceedings.

Then, if the situation permits:

  • Since negligent security cases often involve a crime, call the police or 911.
  • The police will be required to create an incident report. Ask for a copy of the incident report while the police are still on the scene.
  • Depending on where the incident took place, a security officer, store manager, or other official may file an incident report as well. Ask the security officer and/or store manager for a copy of their incident reports before leaving.
  • DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING until you’ve spoken to a lawyer who represents you. This includes incident reports and anything from the property owner’s insurance company.
  • Do not apologize or admit fault. This applies to any interactions you may have with the property owner, witnesses to the crime, law enforcement officers, or insurance companies. Speak to a lawyer before making any statements that could be taken as a sign of your culpability or used against you in ways you might not anticipate.
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Even a clearheaded and intelligent person can be left reeling after being injured. An experienced attorney can help you avoid exposing yourself to unnecessary legal risk and can advise you on your legal options.
  • Take photos or videos at the site of the incident. Photos showing your injuries or your surroundings at the time of the incident can be useful in legal proceedings. A security review conducted after the fact may not properly reflect the conditions at the time you were hurt. (For example, a poorly lit parking lot will not seem as threatening if photographed during the day versus during a stormy night.)
  • If there are other witnesses to the incident, get their names and contact information.

The negligent security attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy can advise on the steps to take in your particular case. The initial consultation is always free. Call us at 212-736-5300 or contact us online.

Our track record includes $1 million-plus outcomes for negligent security victims. Past results include:

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To discuss your potential premises liability case with a Block O’Toole & Murphy attorney, please fill out the form below or call 212-736-5300.