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Negligent Security FAQs

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May 18, 2023

What is negligent security?

Negligent security is a form of premises liability. Property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors to the property. If a person is a victim of a violent crime on the property (such as robbery, rape, assault, or battery,) the property owner may be liable if they failed in their duty to keep the visitor safe from criminal activity.

What is a property owner’s duty to people on their property?

Property owners have a duty of reasonable care to people who come onto their property. What is expected of the property owner depends on the reason for the person’s presence, and this differs slightly from state to state. A higher duty is owed to an invited guest or business visitor than to a trespasser. In general, a property owner should keep their property free from hazards that they knew or should have known about. In a negligent security claim, a property owner may be liable for harm caused by a crime that the owner knew or should have known was likely to occur on the property.

What is premises liability?

Premises liability describes a property owner’s liability for harm caused on their property because they failed to keep their property reasonably safe for visitors. An injured victim can bring a legal claim in premises liability for their damages. 

What are common examples of negligent security?

Negligent security is not set out in a list of specific actions, however, common examples include:

  • Missing or broken locks
  • Out-of-date or non-functional security cameras or systems
  • Poor or broken lighting
  • Inadequate training of staff and security guards 
  • Inadequate staff background checks

This is not a complete list. If you are the victim of a crime on property that was unsafe or unsecure, you may be entitled to bring a civil action for your expenses and damages, such as medical expenses, physical pain, and emotional trauma. 

Where can negligent security happen?

Negligent security can be an issue on any property, whether it is residential or commercial. If the property owner does not have adequate security to prevent someone being the victim of a violent crime on that property, there may be grounds for a negligent security claim. Places were negligent security can and do happen include:

  • Stores and malls
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Parking garages and parking lots
  • Amusement parks
  • Nightclubs
  • Sports and concert venues
  • Office buildings
  • Gas stations
  • Schools
  • Apartment complexes
  • Private homes

Is negligent security a criminal action?

No. Although there may be criminal charges arising out of the same events, a negligent security claim is a civil action brought by the injured victim against the property owner (not against the perpetrator of the crime.) For example, if someone is assaulted in a mall with inadequate late night security, the victim may be able to bring a civil claim against the mall property owner for negligent security, and at the same time, the state might be filing criminal charges against the perpetrator.

Who can bring a negligent security claim?

A negligent security claim can be brought by the victim of a crime on another person’s property, if the property owner knew or should have known that criminal activity was likely to occur on the property.

What compensation should I get for a negligent security claim?

Just as for a general negligence claim or a premises liability claim, a victim in a negligent security claim should be compensated for all of their damages as a result of the property owner’s negligence, past and future. This would include:

  • Medical expenses: hospital bills, pharmacy expenses, ambulance fees, physical therapy bills, at-home care expenses, etc.
  • Lost wages and benefits: work missed for medical treatment or rehabilitation, future lost income due to job loss or changes
  • Pain and suffering: a monetary sum decided by the court to compensate for physical discomfort and mental trauma

Is there a deadline for bringing a negligent security claim?

Yes, there is a legal deadline in every state for filing a negligent security claim called the statute of limitations. In Delaware, the statute of limitations period for a personal injury due to negligent security is two years. If you are thinking about pursuing a claim for negligent security, you should not delay talking to a negligent security lawyer so that you do not miss your opportunity to bring a claim. 

Do I need a lawyer for a negligent security claim?

Yes, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney if you are considering a negligent security claim. Any legal claim can be complex and should be pursued with professional legal advice. A negligent security claim often involves a business property owner and insurance company with more resources and experience than an individual property owner. A negligent security claim also requires knowledge of criminal law and processes, because a crime always underlines a negligent security claim. This area of the law is complex, and good legal representation can be the difference between being fully and fairly compensated for your injuries and receiving nothing or a lowball settlement offer. 

Why should I hire Morris James for a negligent security lawsuit?

The negligent security attorneys at Morris James are well-versed in all aspects of a negligent security claim. We are sensitive to the emotional and practical needs of victims, but aggressive in our representation of them in negotiations or at trial. Our lawyers have years of trial experience, and, while we will always try to get the best result for our client without ever going to court, we are willing and able to take your case to trial to get the best outcome for you. 

At Morris James, we will discuss your case with you in a free no-obligation consultation so that you can find out more about your legal rights and options, and decide if we are the right fit for you. We will also take your case on a contingency basis, which means that you do not have to pay us any legal fees unless you win. If you would like to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact us online or by calling 302.655.2599 today. 


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