In recent years, proper security in public places has become a greater concern to all Americans.
It is far more common today than ever before to turn on the news and hear about a traumatic event in a public space, such as what recently transpired at the Fort Lauderdale airport or the Cascade Mall in Washington state late in September 2016. Although an incident like a mass shooting is a very complicated occurrence, we nevertheless ask what could have been done to better protect the public in that space?
A failure to protect people in a public space is often referred to as “security negligence” or “negligent security,” but sometimes you’ll see it phrased as “inadequate security.” Regardless, when people in a public place have their security compromised they may want to consider filing a lawsuit against the landlord, management, or other entity responsible for securing the venue.
Although liability hasn’t been confirmed in either of the above incidents, they point to the more extreme examples of what it means for someone or a business to not adequately protect the people on their property.
If you’re thinking about pursuing legal action over negligent or inadequate security, contact our attorneys at Morgan & Morgan today to help you navigate this frequently complex field of law. We offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation that will connect you with an attorney who can help.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Lawsuits in this area vary based on the specific circumstances of each case and the act that was committed. One constant is that you will never file a negligent security lawsuit against the attacker. Only a third party can be held accountable for negligence, often the owner of the property where the incident occurred.
Although it is impossible for the property or business owner to know that something terrible would happen on their premises, they do know it is possible. As a result, it is their responsibility to make sure there is sufficient security to make sure everybody is safe. If they fail to do so, and someone is injured or worse as a result, it’s possible they could be held liable for their negligence.
How Is Liability Determined?
Similar to a case where a person slips and falls on someone else’s property because of the property owner’s negligence, a negligent security case is won by proving negligence. In these cases, this is often determined by how foreseeable the offense was and if it was preventable.
While mass shootings in public places are unusual, the threat of one is more common than ever before, according to an FBI report on mass shootings from 2013. As a result, the owner of a public venue may be required to have security on location because it is foreseeable that a violent act could be committed.
Similarly, to prove negligence an attorney would also need to prove the incident was preventable. Your attorney will need to consult with security experts to determine if there were precautions the property owner could have taken to prevent the incident from occurring. This could include hiring security guards, installing metal detectors, and putting up a light in a dark parking lot, among other precautions.
It is important to note that something can only be deemed “preventable” if the precautions are reasonable. If the prevention methods would have placed an undue financial burden on the property owner they may not be able to be held liable in the court of law for the incident that occurred on their property.
What Damages Can I Receive?
Negligent security is an emerging area of the law and so it is difficult to predict what damages may be awarded. Generally, though, plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for the traumatic act committed and punitive damages to punish the third-party for their negligence.
Some verdicts in the past have been enormous. In one case, a Florida man was shot outside a Boomers!, when he tried to leave the scene of an argument between two teenagers close to 1:00 a.m. His attorney argued Boomers! should have provided better security because it knew or should have known the parking lot could be dangerous late at night. A jury agreed and awarded him more than $4 million in damages.
While verdicts are not always so large, and past verdicts do not guarantee similar awards in future cases, the verdicts mentioned above provide a peek into how serious some judges and juries take negligence that leads to someone getting hurt, or worse. You might even have your case compounded by medical difficulties and leave you injured, making the case all the more serious.
Can I File A Lawsuit?
No two negligent and inadequate security cases are alike, and your ability to file a lawsuit must be evaluated based on the specific circumstances of your case. Don’t hesitate to contact a Morgan & Morgan attorney to find out if you have a case.
Our attorneys are ready to help you seek justice for suffering caused by another person’s negligence. We can help file personal injury claims and more in a variety of areas, including car accidents. Fill out our free case review form to learn more today.