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Negligent Security - The Dangers Lurking in the Dark

Written by Miriam Fresco Agrait, attorney at Rubenstein Law

We all remember our parents nagging us to avoid walking alone at night in dark areas. We may have rolled our eyes and sighed at their constant worry, but our parents were right. Plenty of criminals dwell in the dark corners of poorly lit parking lots and staircases waiting to attack the next unwitting victim. These are known as “crimes of opportunity” and can occur almost anywhere, including:

  • Concert Venues
  • Hotels/Motels
  • Convenience Stores
  • Theatres
  • Apartment Complexes
  • Shopping Malls
  • Restaurants & Bars
  • Airports, Train Stations & Bus Terminals
  • Theme Parks & Fairs
  • Parking Decks & Parking Lots

Property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain a safe environment for their visitors. This responsibility extends to providing adequate security, including:

  • Proper lighting
  • Installing sufficient crowd control measures
  • Security cameras
  • Working security gates or locks
  • Alarms
  • Employing a sufficient amount of trained security guards

Depending on the history of the crimes occurring on the property and surrounding areas. Violent crimes, such as assault, battery, sexual assault, and even murder, are often committed in premises that fail to provide adequate security.

Recently, a 19-year old man was fatally shot in the lobby of the apartment building where he lived. Although the offender was arrested and is being prosecuted, the young man’s surviving mother is suing the owner of the apartment building citing woefully negligent building conditions, including broken locks that made it too easy for the offender to gain access. Further, mass shootings like the one that occurred just this week (January 6, 2017) at the Fort Lauderdale Airport illustrate woefully inadequate security. In that case, the gunman, who was carrying a firearm in his checked baggage, opened fire in the baggage claim area of the airport. Sadly, the attack resulted in the death of five people and six people were injured. In the aftermath, one must evaluate what safety mechanisms or security measures the airport could have put in place to prevent this tragedy.

If a violent crime that results in a personal injury to the victim occurs in premises that have failed to provide adequate security, the property owner may be liable for the victim’s injuries because the crime is foreseeable, and therefore preventable. Victims often rely solely on police officers and criminal courts to hold the offender responsible. Sadly, the criminal justice system offers no process to hold the property owner liable for failing toprovide adequate security that could have thwarted the offender’s ability to commit the crime on their property. However, it is possible for a crime victim (or their family) to file a civil lawsuit against the property owner to recover monetary damages for the property owner’s failure to provide adequate security. If you or a loved one is injured in the commission of a crime due to a failure to provide adequate security, don’t hesitate to contact Rubenstein Law at 1-800-FL-LEGAL (800-355-3425) for a free consultation and to discuss all your available options.