Armando By Armando Edmiston

Inadequate and Negligent Security Claims

Were you injured on someone else’s property because of inadequate security or negligent security like improper lighting or non-working entry gate locks in Tampa, Florida? If you answered yes, you need to contact an experienced injury lawyer for negligent security claims. Property owners have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe from dangerous conditions that could cause harm to visitors, including customers, tenants, and anyone authorized to be on the grounds. This duty means more than just keeping the property free of debris that can be tripped on or steps provided with properly attached handrails to prevent falls. It also includes the duty to provide security measures in order to prevent harm from criminal activity to those who are legally on the property.

Inadequate and Negligent Security Explained

If a person, who has a legal right to be on the property, is a victim of criminal harm while on the property, he or she may have a premises liability action against the property owner for inadequate and negligent security. Just a few examples of inadequate or negligent security include:

  • Inadequate lighting in parking lots or parking garages, making it easy for potential criminals to hide. The damage may include victims being assaulted or their property stolen.
  • Broken locks, doors, or windows of apartments or hotel/motel rooms which allow for property to be stolen or harm to come to the occupants.
  • Poor lighting, or malfunctioning exit signs or smoke and carbon dioxide alarms, so that people cannot escape from a dangerous condition in a building, such as fire or fumes engulfing the premises.
  • Lack of security personnel. Banks, hotels, arenas, and other public places are often targets of criminal activity and need to have adequate security personnel who can act quickly to prevent harm.
  • Lack of lifeguards, and no adequate notice that no lifeguards are on duty, which leads to someone drowning.

There is no limit to the types of actions or failures to take action by the property owner that can be the cause of harm to an individual or individuals due to inadequate or negligent security.

Common Locations Where Inadequate or Negligent Security is Often a Problem

Inadequate or negligent security issues can arise any place, but the most common locations where this is a problem include:

  • Airports. All areas of airports need to have adequate security, including airport parking lots, walkways to the terminal, and inside terminals. Loudspeakers even caution travelers not to leave their bags unattended. Your bag may be stolen, or an item or items placed in it that gets you in trouble even though the item found is not yours.
  • Apartment buildings. People have been assaulted in the parking lot or pathway to their unit due to poor lighting. Locks are not properly installed, allowing break-ins. Trees and bushes are not properly trimmed, allowing criminal perpetrators to easily hide, waiting for their chance to attack.  The list could go on and on.
  • Amusement or theme parks. Similar issues to what can happen in an airport.
  • ATMs. ATM dispensers are a common place where inadequate lighting and/or lack of security can result in an assault or theft from the person using the ATM kiosk.
  • Parking lots. Public parking lots of hospitals, shopping malls, museums, schools, hotel and motels, sports arenas, grocery stores, and restaurants, particularly underground parking structures, often are not adequately lit and are not adequately patrolled by security.
  • Schools. Inadequate security in parking lots, at entry doors, and on the premises in general.

Elements of an Inadequate or Negligent Security Claim

In order to pursue a claim for inadequate or negligent security, a victim must prove the common elements of negligence:

  1. The property owner had a legal duty to provide a safe place to the plaintiff. This means that adequate security measures must be in place that are appropriate to the premises in question. For example, landlords have a duty to their tenants to provide adequate locks for the premises, and to change the locks between tenants. Requirements for lighting at a shopping mall parking lot may be different than in the parking lot of an apartment building, and may also be different during the hours the stores are open than when the stores are closed.
  2. The property owner breached the duty to provide adequate security. If the owner knew or should have known about a problem with the security and failed to repair it, he or she has breached the duty of care. A simple example is an apartment owner knew or should have known that the lock on the door was not working and failed to repair it, and someone broke into the tenant’s apartment and assaulted them, the owner breached the duty of providing adequate security. 
  3. The breach is the cause of harm to the plaintiff. The injured person must prove that the failure to provide adequate security was the cause of the harm. In other words, if there had been adequate security, the plaintiff would not have been injured.
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of that harm. The plaintiff incurred a financial loss as well as other damages such as emotional distress due to the assault having happened in a place where she or he felt safe.

An important factor in determining whether or not the property owner breached the duty may turn on whether the owner “knew or should have known” there was inadequate security. For example, if the inadequate lighting was due to a sudden, unexpected and unavoidable power outage, or lighting that was disabled by a criminal perpetrator, it may be difficult to prove the owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition.

Damages Plaintiffs May Collect

As in any negligence claim, victims who suffer harm due to inadequate or negligent security are entitled to collect for all of the losses they actually incurred, such as medical expenses and lost wages. They may also collect for noneconomic losses like those for emotional distress and the loss of the enjoyment of life.