Whether you’re visiting a hotel, grocery store, museum, or other place of business you have the right to be protected from harm. In order to ensure that patrons and visitors are protected, property owners have an obligation to make sure that their properties are safe. This means making sure that the property is physically safe and equipped with adequate security measures to protect against dangerous criminal behavior. When a property owner does not protect its visitors from harm, they can be held financially responsible for any harms that result.
If a property owner failed to take adequate safety precautions, and you have suffered an injury as a result, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers to learn about the benefits of filing a personal injury claim for damages. We will review your case, determine if the property owner was negligent, and explain your legal options.
What is Negligent Security?
In California, landlords and owners of businesses that are open to the public have a legal duty to protect their visitors from foreseeable harm. This duty requires them to use reasonable care to protect their patrons, guests, and/or tenants from another person’s harmful conduct if that conduct can be reasonably anticipated. In simpler terms, property owners must protect guests from the dangerous actions of third parties. If a property owner knows or should know that criminal and/or harmful activity could happen, that property owner must take steps to protect guests who could potentially suffer from that activity
Reasonably Anticipated Conduct
A property owner is required to take affirmative and proactive steps to install security measures when criminal and/or harmful conduct can be reasonably anticipated. Whether criminal conduct is something that should have been reasonably anticipated will be a question of fact in your personal injury case. In most cases, criminal conduct and/or harmful actions should be reasonably anticipated when:
- There have been prior criminal incidents, and/or
- There are indications that the physical location is vulnerable to violent criminal activity.
Property owners must take the type of business/property they operate and the physical location of that business/property into consideration when making security arrangements.
Adequate Security Measures
Property owners are not required to spend tens of thousands of dollars and use all of the latest technology to protect their businesses from criminal activity. The security measures that are taken must simply be sufficient to protect from the anticipated threat of harm. For example, not all businesses have to hire security guards. Security guards are only required when there is a “heightened foreseeability of third party criminal activity.” It would probably be excessive if the owner of a small boutique located in a safe neighborhood hired a security guard to protect the property. On the other hand, the owner of a jewelry store located in a neighborhood that is plagued with crime should probably have a security guard protecting the store.
The bottom line is that a property owner must have adequate security measures to protect against any anticipated criminal threats. A property owner may be considered negligent, and therefore responsible for resulting damages, if they lack the following safety measures:
- Security cameras
- Floodlights in parking lots
- Metal detectors
- Door locks
- Security systems, and
- Security guards.
Security to Protect Against Crime
When a property owner does not have adequate security measures in place, visitors and patrons may be at an increased risk of harm. Third party criminal acts can cause serious and life-changing injuries. Here are a few examples of criminal conduct that could occur if a property owner does not have proper security measures in place:
- Jane is assaulted and robbed in the poorly-lit parking lot of her local grocery store.
- Adam, a resident in a nursing home, is sexually assaulted by a man who walked in off of the street without being seen or approached by staff members.
- Sally is held up at gunpoint while she is in line at her local bank.
- A burglar targets Sam’s apartment building, knowing that the landlord does not have any security cameras or security systems installs. Sam is shot and wounded by the burglar in his own home.
- Beth is staying at a Los Angeles hotel when a man, who is not a guest, storms into her room and rapes her.
In each of these scenarios, the property owners did not have adequate security measures in place to protect their guests/residents from third party criminal acts. If the victims decide to pursue compensation by filing a negligent security claim, the issue will be whether or not these criminal acts were foreseeable. If these crimes could have been reasonably anticipated, the victims will likely be able to recover damages.
Statute of Limitations for Negligent Security Cases
If you have been injured because of a property owner’s negligent security measures you have the right to file a personal injury claim. However, it is important to act quickly. In California, personal injury claims generally have to be filed within two years of your accident. If you do not file your claim before the statute of limitations expires you will not be able to get the money you need and deserve.
There are limited exceptions to this strict rule. You may be able to extend the statute of limitations if you are a minor at the time of the accident, if the defendant is unavailable, or if there is a reasonable delay in the discovery of your injury.
Damages for Negligent Security Injuries
Violent criminal acts can cause victims to suffer from serious and life-threatening injuries. These injuries can linger and generate substantial medical bills and debt. Some injuries may be so harmful that the victim is forced to miss time at work or cannot return to work, at all. Fortunately, personal injury claims can allow victims to recover monetary damages to compensate for these (and other) injury-related costs.
Economic damages help to compensate you for the financial losses you suffer because of an injury. These can include:
- Medical bills
- Nursing care
- Lost wages, and
- Reduced earning capacity.
Some injuries are will not necessarily cause you to spend anything out-of-pocket or lose money. These injuries, which are often emotional and/or psychological, are difficult to value in terms of money. However, this does not mean that these injuries are any less harmful to you. Non-economic damages help to compensate you for these hard-to-value injuries. These can include:
- Emotional trauma and distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Loss of consortium.
Los Angeles Negligent Security Attorneys
Have you been injured in Los Angeles because a property owner failed to have adequate security measures in place? If the owner could have reasonably anticipated the conduct that caused your injury you may be entitled to compensation. Call the personal injury attorneys at Citywide Law Group to find out how we can help you maximize the compensation you receive.
We have more than 17 years of legal experience and, during this time, have helped thousands of clients recover meaningful compensation for their injuries. We understand that an unexpected injury can be devastating and will fight to make sure that you are fairly compensated by the person who is responsible for your harm. It is important to act quickly, so do not hesitate to contact us today to schedule your free consultation. We will review your case, determine the best strategy, and answer the questions you have.