What Is Negligent Security?
Negligence is “carelessly causing harm to another.” Another key component of negligent security is “breach of duty.” (1)
A property owner or tenant of a property must provide you with adequate security, protection, or safety. If you are injured by someone else while on a property, the owner or tenant can be held responsible for the harm you suffered. They owe you a reasonable duty of care. (2)
Where Can Negligent Security Occur?
Negligent security can occur just about anywhere. First, there needs to be a property owner and an establishment.
Next, you must have a right to be on the property. You are allowed. You are invited. You are welcomed. So, the caretaker of the property owes you a reasonable duty of care. (3)
The security guards you see patrolling the parking lot and the mall itself aren’t there just to prevent shoplifting. If you are attacked, raped, or beaten in the parking lot on the way to your car, the property owner can be held responsible.
Yes, grocery stores put up signs telling you when the floor is wet to prevent slip and fall accidents. But the owners of the property are also responsible if someone commits a crime against you.
Parking Garages and Lots
Parking lots and garages are one of the most common places people get attacked. If you are assaulted and someone steals your car, security personnel and the owner of the property can be held liable.
If you are attacked and someone robs you in an office building, the people overseeing the building’s security can be held accountable. Not only must the building be kept safe for employees, but managers must also secure people’s safety from crime.
More and more, schools are upgrading their security. Guards may patrol the hallways and you even may have to walk through electronic security. The school building managers must also keep their grounds and parking lots safe from crime.
Apartments are another common place for crime. Apartment managers and owners must keep you safe while on their grounds, both inside and outside.
Stadiums and Other Venues
At concerts, sporting events, and other similar venues, the hosts hire security. The property owners are responsible for ensuring guests are safe from crime and danger. They have to take reasonable measures to prevent crowds from stampeding, fights from escalating, or attacks from happening in bathrooms.
Types of Crimes
“New York State and the FBI use seven Index crime categories as indicators of overall crime trends: murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, which are classified as violent crimes,” in addition to the property crimes of burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. (4)
For New York state in 2020, data show: (5)
- Murder: 836.
- Rape: 5,610.
- Robbery: 17,506.
- Aggravated assault: 46,591.
For New York City in 2020, data show: (6)
- Murder: 468.
- Rape: 2,253.
- Robbery: 13,182.
- Aggravated assault: 32,056.
In addition, a study of 1,086 reported cases from 1992 to 2001 showed the types of crimes reported in negligent security cases: (7)
- Assault and battery: 42% — These crimes increased over the decade. They were particularly common in parking lots, movie houses, tenant co-ops, trailer parks, churches, bars, restaurants, retail stores, apartment buildings and condos.
- Sexual assault and rape: 26% — Common locations were hotels, apartment buildings, and condos. Attacks at healthcare facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, were on the rise. Staff and hospital personnel sometimes assaulted the people they were supposed to be caring for.
- Wrongful death: 15% — Any violent act taken to extremes can result in death.
- Robbery: 9% — Typical locations included hotels, retail stores, shopping malls, apartment buildings, condos, and restaurants.
The remaining 8% of cases included crimes such as false imprisonment, burglary, arson, and motor vehicle theft. (8)
Potential Injuries in a Negligent Security Case
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Violent crime includes murder, rape and sexual assault, robbery, and assault. (9)
- Assault: “An unlawful physical attack or threat of attack. Assaults may be classified as aggravated or simple. … The severity of assaults ranges from minor threats to nearly fatal incidents.” (10) Minor injuries include bruises, black eyes, cuts, and less than 48 hours hospitalization. Serious injuries include broken bones, lost teeth, internal injuries, and loss of consciousness. (11)
- Rape and sexual assault: “Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion and physical force… vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by the offender(s).” Rape is an injury itself along with the other components of the attack. (12)
- Death: Any violent crime can result in death, either immediately or from complications following an attack.
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The legal foundation of negligent security falls under the concept of premises liability. In New York, property owners are obliged “to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for the protection of persons whose presence is reasonably foreseeable.” (13)
The owner also has a duty to warn you of known dangers. This is always true, but especially when you are welcomed and encouraged to be on someone’s property (14)
You are invited or encouraged to enter, gather, or shop on a given property. Your presence on a property benefits the property owners. Business owners benefit from your business. Employers benefit from the work you do for them. Apartment building owners benefit from tenants paying rent. (15)
For your lawsuit, you must prove the property owner failed to provide adequate security or warnings so you and other visitors could avoid injury.
Laws vary by state. So, it’s best to speak with an attorney who is very familiar with New York state regulations and statutes.
How W&L Can Help
Weitz & Luxenberg is based in Manhattan and has been for over 30 years. Our attorneys represent clients across New York state who were injured through the actions or inactions of others.
If you have been injured due to someone else’s security negligence, our experienced team of attorneys can help you.
We have a solid history of winning. For example, we successfully helped get: