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What can you do to protect your business from a Negligent Security lawsuit?

Negligent Security Lawsuits are a relatively new legal trend. 

Man Committing Robbery In Dark Parking Lot | Negligent Security | Huff InsuranceWe are seeing more lawsuits claiming negligent security practices by business owners.

Property owners, and businesses that are tenants are being sued because someone was injured on their premises.   I’m not talking about slipping and failing incidents.

I am talking about you as the property owner or the tenant being sued because you were negligent with the lack of security you provided on the property.

Here is the scary truth.

Your business could be closed and someone pulls into your parking lot after hours and is assaulted.  As the property owner or business owner, you may be sued for negligent security.  The attorney will bring up all of the other times 911 was called to your location.  Then they will site the lighting, the fact that the parking lot was not closed, etc. in the lawsuit and you need to defend.

The largest negligent security claim to date is Barrack vs Report Investment Corporation.  In this case, the plaintiff parked next door in a parking lot known to be used by customers and the verdict is $102 million.

Why are we seeing negligent security cases?

  1. Courts admit all types of incidents to establish foreseeability
  2. Dramatic increase in crime across the nation
  3. Increase in the victims’ right movement
  4. Courts allowing juries to consider the impact prevention has on the criminal’s decision to commit crime at that location
  5. Highly publicized cases involving multimillion-dollar awards
  6. Catastrophic physical and long-term psychological injuries
  7. Increased sophistication of trial lawyers

What types of businesses are seeing negligent security lawsuits?

  1. Multi-residential unit residential properties
  2. Hotels and Motels
  3. Retail Establishments
  4. Restaurants, Bars and Casinos
  5. Condominium and Homeowners associations
  6. Single-family homes
  7. Parking lots
  8. Construction Projects

What are some of the legal standards to impose liability against owners and businesses?

  • Liability is determined on whether the crime was foreseeable
  • Key test is the “Existence of Prior Similar Incidents”
  • The idea of “similar” is becoming obsolete.  Courts are looking at any crime under the theory that a prior trespass or vandalism is admissible because such crimes can escalate into a deadly assault, murder or rape

What can you do to minimize the risk and exposure of a negligent security lawsuit?

Source: Source: Rajan, Anandhi, Haider, Dania, and Hearn, Anthony S., GUNS, SHOOTOUTS, AND LIABILITY, What’s a Shopkeeper to Do Now? 57 No. 2 DRI For Def. 54 (2015).

  • Become familiar with the premises liability laws in your state
  • Implement corporate policies and procedures governing security
  • Maintain Policies and practices that maximize detection, deterrence, and prosecution from criminal acts at your location
  • Work together with local business owners, competitor, and local law enforcement to develop and sharpen own safety practices for customers
  • Ensure onsite personnel is trained to identify suspicious behavior

What type of Security Measures should I implement to reduce Negligent Security Lawsuits?

  1. Installation and Maintenance of CCTV
    1. Never install false cameras this gives people a false sense of security
    2. Fake cameras will hurt you more in a lawsuit then to not have cameras at all
  2. Hire unarmed security personnel or a third-party security vendor
    1. Make sure that you get proof of their license and insurance
    2. Use indemnity and additional inured clauses for risk transfer
  3. Implement stricter standards with employees to discourage violent behavior
  4. Ensure parking facilities are illuminated and patrolled
  5. Maintain adequate and function lighting fixtures
  6. Maintain landscaping and foliage to prevent areas for criminals to hide out of sight

Complete a Security Assessment Checklist- with a team of employees

Your Security Assessment Checklist should include the following:

  1. Security Vulnerability Assessment
    1. Team
    2. Threat Assessment
    3. Threat Vulnerability analysis
    4. Security countermeasures
    5. Assess risk reduction
    6. Document findings and track implementation
  2. Access control Procedures
    1. Access badges
    2. Post Orders- details as to implementation
    3. Record Keeping- retention, records of crimes discovered, frequency of patrol
  3. Security Plan
    1. Procedures for employees, visitor, and vendor safety
    2. Include threat assessment and risk
    3. Incident response procedures- emergency contact info, resources to execute to response, procedures, and checklist for a response.
  4. Equipment
    1. Policies on weapons and equipment
    2. Training and license
    3. Exterior Perimeter- fence, walls, roofs, key control
    4. Environmental Design Crime Control- lighting should be lumen efficient, lighting at doors, vehicular entrances, pedestrian walkways, parking areas
    5. Landscaping reduced around perimeter fences to allow surveillance of the property any areas of concealment should be lighted

What is the Key information that should be part of the security assessment?

  1. Crime Grids of the property address
  2. Crime grids one-mile radius
  3. Prior reports for similar crimes on property
  4. Assess coverage for surveillance and retention
  5. Review security and safety protocols
  6. Establish liaison with policy agency
  7. Photograph and videotape security device placement (lighting, cameras, signage)

These measures may not prevent you from being sued,.  But if you show that you are doing to take security seriously, it is going to put you in the best light in front of a judge or  jury if there is a lawsuit.

Contact Huff Insurance today to review your business liability insurance plan.


*This blog is for informational purposes only.  It does not offer legal advice.  Please note that insurance coverage varies by state and by company.  Please contact your specific insurance agent or carrier to discuss your specific coverage. Negligence laws also vary by state and jurisdiction.  

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