Were Your Injuries Caused By Inadequate Building Security?
Unfortunately, there are thousands of instances every year where tenants of apartment complexes, hotel guests, college students among many others are victimized by rapists, burglars and a host of other kinds of assailants. All too often, it was the case that if only the property owners of these crime scenes had provided an adequate level of security in the form of adequate lighting, proper locking or closing mechanisms on doors/windows/gates, an adequate security staff, video cameras, or a combination of those measures, these incidents could have been prevented.
If you or a loved one was the victim of a crime and/or otherwise sustained injuries or someone close to you has died as a result of somebody else’s negligence and/or inadequacy toward maintaining the security and safety of their property, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. Schedule a free consultation by calling 212-689-5000.
Negligent Or Inadequate Security And Premises Liability
Negligent or inadequate security claims fall into the category of premises liability law because they assert that these incidents were the result of the property owners’ failure to maintain reasonably safe conditions on their premises. The duty of the owner or possessor may include, in addition to the obligation to take reasonable care of the physical condition of the premises, protecting individuals against injury caused by the conduct of third persons on the premises.
In proving a negligent security claim and recovering damages from injuries suffered, one must show that a hazardous condition existed on the premises in question and the property owner knew or should have known about this condition but failed to take reasonable measures toward rectifying the problem, including warning people of the potential danger if it is not an obvious one. Also, just as important in supporting a premises liability claim, the hazardous condition must be proven to have been the cause of the injury.
Common Claims Or Allegations Of Negligent Or Inadequate Security
- Defective, poorly maintained, inoperable or outdated door locks, window locks, intercom systems, gates, fencing, camera monitors, video surveillance or security alarms;
- The absence of all necessary windows, doors and/or gates permitting a predator or perpetrator to gain access;
- Failure to properly monitor and watch all available surveillance systems, cameras and other security cameras in spite of personnel hired to do so;
- Failure of the property owner, managing agent and/or possessor to give adequate and proper warning about a known specific threat or prior criminal conduct;
- Failure to properly illuminate or light a stairwell, corridor, hallway, parking lot or the entrance/exit to a building or lighting that is not working or poorly maintained;
- Failure to hire the proper amount of security guards to patrol the property;
- Incompetent, intoxicated, unsupervised, poorly trained or unqualified security personnel, guards, bouncers, doormen or other security personnel;
- Inadequate visitor or guest screening by building personnel resulting in a dangerous predator or perpetrator gaining access to the property;
- Hiring dangerous or potentially dangerous employees as a result of the failure to properly screen, investigate and/or conduct pre-employment background checks;
- Disregard by the owner or management of ongoing criminal or violent conduct at or inside the premises notwithstanding the need to provide minimal security measures;
- Failure to heed to surrounding known criminal activity in the area of the premises/building and adequately responding thereto; and,
- Failing to implement or delaying already existing plans for new or updated security.
Common Defenses Employed By Property Owners
We are knowledgeable and skilled in countering the following common strategies that have routinely been used in order to disprove or diminish a property owner’s liability due to negligent or inadequate security. These defenses include:
- No available security measures: The use of criminal profiling in order to argue that the type of criminal activity in question was impossible to enforce against, regardless of whether security measures were adequate
- Apportionment of fault: Attempting to shift blame onto the predator or assailant to excuse the property owner’s negligence
- Comparative negligence: The attribution of partial fault for the injury to the plaintiff due to the incident resulting from his or her failure to practice reasonable caution
- Adequate security: The claim that reasonable and sufficient security was provided despite the incidence of the attack
- Absence of duty: The claim that the property owner had no duty or responsibility to the injured party
Foreseeability Of A Third-Party Attack
In terms of negligent or inadequate security, if there is a previously known or foreseeable potential for criminal conduct or any sort of third-party attack on someone’s commercial or residential property, they have a duty to provide proper security equipment, surveillance, building access control measures and/or personnel in order to protect others from injury on the premises. New York law states that if an event can or should be reasonably predicted to occur or if a person practicing reasonable caution would anticipate the event’s occurrence under the circumstances, then that event is lawfully considered to be foreseeable. New York uses these three factors in order to determine foreseeability:
- Totality of the circumstances: Relevant factors involving the condition, layout and location of the premises, including prior criminal activity on or proximate to the premises
- Imminent harm: Evidence that the property owner had knowledge of or should have had knowledge of the imminence of a crime based on a history of crime on the property or in its vicinity
- Prior similar incidences: Evidence of previous criminal acts on the property or in its vicinity that are comparable to the incident in question
The duty to protect against criminal intruders most often arises when surrounding crime has seriously infiltrated the premises or when the landlord is on notice of a serious risk of such infiltration. For example, a defendant building owner and managing agent may be held responsible where they were on notice of a particular recurring safety issue where several tenants had complained about the building’s front doors frequently being left open and there was evidence of multiple burglaries and an assault in the building and adjoining buildings owned and managed by the defendants during the two years prior to a physical attack on the victim.
It is important to note that the duty to provide reasonable safety measures applies to governmental as well as private landowners. Therefore, buildings that are maintained and operated by the New York City Housing Authority in the city of New York, as well as hospitals that are run by the city of New York through the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, are also subject to liability.
The Sooner You Reach Out, The Stronger Your Case Will Be
If a victim has been injured or killed as a result of an assault on property or inside of a building, an immediate investigation should be conducted to determine whether adequate security measures were in place, including whether locks, security cameras or other types of safety equipment failed to function properly. Additionally, an investigation needs to be undertaken to determine whether personnel responsible for security at the location performed their jobs and duties in a responsible manner.
If an investigation reveals inadequate safety measures that resulted in broken doors, locks, inoperable cameras, lights or any other security devices and/or negligent security personnel led to a preventable assault, rape, shooting, abduction, homicide or any other attack, then the victim and their family should consider retaining a qualified and knowledgeable attorney to evaluate the merits or any potential lawsuit against any and all parties responsible for the breach or lapse in security.