Proprietors have a duty of care to keep their property safe from violent crimes. If a third party commits a crime on their premises that was avoidable through proper security measures, the property owner may face liability. A Forsyth County negligent security lawyer could help a victim of crime hold the negligent property owner accountable through a civil suit. Contact a skilled premises liability attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.
Proving a Negligent Security Case
Property owners may not be liable for every crime or incident that occurs on their premises. Although a property owner is required to keep their property safe from crime, a seasoned Forsyth County negligent security attorney can only help a victim of a crime recover damages if they can prove the property owner was negligent by providing sufficient evidence. To prove negligence, a plaintiff’s attorney must establish five different elements:
- The property owner owed the plaintiff a duty to maintain the premises free of crime;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The breach resulted in injury to the plaintiff;
- The injury caused damages; and
- The criminal act was foreseeable.
What is the Duty of Care?
The duty of care in a negligent security case varies depending on two factors including the location of the criminal conduct and the relationship between the property and the victim. State law requires that property owners keep their “premises and approaches” safe. This is an important distinction, as courts have established that “approaches” may refer to crimes that occur adjacent to a defendant’s property.
The relationship between the parties is also important. For example, a landlord owes a high duty of care to their renters. However, the owner of private property owes a lower duty to a trespasser.
A property owner breaches a duty of care when they fail to maintain safe premises. A typical example of a breach in negligent security cases involves failure to install security gates or proper lighting.
Causation and Damages
A plaintiff also must show that the defendant’s breach of their duty resulted in their injuries and losses. Damages after a violent crime may include anything from medical bills for their physical injuries to stolen property.
What is Foreseeability?
In addition to the typical elements of negligence, a plaintiff and their Forsyth County negligent security attorney must prove that the criminal activity that led to the damages was foreseeable by the property owner or their staff. Crimes may be foreseeable when:
- Similar criminal activity occurred on the premises;
- A “volatile situation” occurred before the criminal activity began; or
- Their property is in an area known for high crime rates.
Recovering Compensation for Damages
An experienced lawyer must also prove that the plaintiff suffered damages. These damages may include compensation for expenses such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. State law does not limit the amount of these damages that an injured victim may receive.
Punitive damages also may be an option in some negligent security cases. These damages are not intended to help a victim recover their losses. Instead, punitive damages punish the defendant and deter others from committing similar crimes. The courts typically limit punitive damages to $250,000 for negligent security lawsuits.
Seek Help from a Forsyth County Negligent Security Attorney
If you sustained an injury after a violent crime on someone else’s property, you may have a valid negligent security claim against the property owner. However, it can be difficult to handle your case without the help of a skilled attorney. To discuss your legal options, and optimize your chances for receiving fair compensation, contact an experienced Forsyth County negligent security lawyer today.