When you slip and fall because a grocery store failed to display a “wet floor” sign, or you are injured in an elevator that your apartment complex failed to maintain, the staff or the property owner can be held liable for failing to provide a safe environment for you. This is the legal concept of premises liability in Texas.
What many victims of crime don’t realize is that property owners also have a duty to keep visitors safe from foreseeable criminal activity.
When property owners do not meet this duty of care and allow a visitor to become a victim of third-party crime, it is considered negligent security, and the victim can file a claim for compensation.
What Is Negligent or Inadequate Security?
Property owners and managers have a legal responsibility to offer reasonable security measures to protect lawful visitors from foreseeable crimes by third parties. A case involving negligent security assumes that the crime could have been prevented or at least made less likely had the appropriate security measures been taken by the property owner.
Criminal activity can happen at a number of locations, but commonly occurs at workplaces, bars or restaurants that serve alcohol, apartment complexes, and commercial venues that hold large crowds of people.
In a recent case in Georgia, a victim received a $3 million settlement in a negligent security case. The case arose out of a fatal shooting at Creekside Forest Apartments in Atlanta. Evidence showed that the gates to the complex were dysfunctional, the guard shack was in shambles, and security was sorely lacking (PR Newswire). These facts helped the plaintiff and his attorneys demonstrate that the apartment complex owner did not provide a reasonable amount of security to keep the tenants safe.
In addition, if the lawyers were able to demonstrate that the complex was located in a high-crime area, they could have argued that the complex owner had prior knowledge of the danger and that the crime was foreseeable.
Another example of inadequate security involved fans at a Miami Dolphins football game. In this case, a man and his family were repeatedly harassed by opposing fans with threats and insults throughout the first three quarters of the game. In the fourth quarter, the family was physically assaulted by the same fans. On three separate occasions, the man reported the behavior to onsite security, who did nothing.
The lack of response from local security officers was in violation of the National Football League and the Miami Dolphins’ code of conduct. If security had intervened, the physical assault probably would not have occurred (Miami New Times).
Proving Liability in Inadequate Security Cases
While it may seem difficult to prove that a property owner is liable for a criminal’s actions, it can sometimes be simpler to prove knowledge of crimes or criminal activity than a physical hazard on the property. If you think a property owner may be responsible for allowing a crime against you to take place, you will need to prove a few basic elements of liability:
- Your injuries occurred. This can be proved through photo evidence and medical records. Emotional trauma may be proven through a therapist or psychologist’s testimony.
- You were lawfully present on the property. In Texas, the only duty a landowner owes to a trespasser is not to intentionally injure that person.
- The property owner was negligent. They did not provide an adequate level of security.
- Your injuries were a direct result of the lack of security. If the property owner employed adequate security, your injury either wouldn’t have happened or would have been much less likely to happen.
- The criminal activity was foreseeable. In negligent security cases, it is important to be able to demonstrate that the property owner knew or should have known that crime was likely to occur. This can be proved through crime rate statistics in the area, and previous reported crimes on the property.
Work with an Experienced Negligent Security Lawyer
It may feel impossible to get justice from the perpetrator after having been the victim of a violent crime in Dallas. It’s important for victims to know that they may be able to get justice from the owner of the property where the crime occurred.
Property owners who have knowledge of previous crime, yet do nothing to ensure the safety of visitors, are not looking out for your best interests. After a crime, you can hold these institutions responsible for the damages you have suffered, including medical bills, lost time at work, and emotional trauma. To consult with an experienced Dallas negligent security attorney about your potential case, give Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP a call at (214) 231-0544.