August 18, 2019

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Suing for Inadequate Building Security


Many people suffer injuries as a result of inadequate security. Property owners and managers have a legal duty towards their guests and the occupants of their buildings to provide protection against attack and accidents. Failure to do so may be grounds for the filing of a premises liability claim for inadequate security.

What is inadequate or negligent security?

Claims for inadequate or negligent security fall under what is known as premises liability law. Premises liability law provides that the property owner or manager has a responsibility towards their tenants and guests to ensure that their property is reasonably safe.

The definition of adequate security varies depending on the particular property. In general, security measures such as locks on doors and windows, video cameras, adequate lighting and adequate security staff are considered reasonable for warding off criminal activity. However, the standard may be more stringent if the property is located in a high crime area or the property owner knew or should have known or other criminal activity on the property

In order to prove a negligent security claim, you must show that the hazardous situation existed on the premises and the property owner or manager was aware or should have been aware of it. You must also show that the property owner failed to institute adequate measures to correct the problem or warn people of the potential danger. Finally, you will also need to prove that the hazardous condition was responsible for your injuries.

Common claims for inadequate security

  • Defective equipment: you can sue for inadequate security if the locks on doors or windows are not working properly, malfunctioning video cameras or malfunctioning intercom systems. Defective security components contribute to insecurity.
  • Inadequate or lack of safety measures: if the property owner or manager fails to invest in adequate security measures such as gates or surveillance cameras, the property and its occupants will be at a higher risk of attack.
  • Failure to inform tenants and guests of threats: property owners and managers are obligated to inform tenants and guests on their premises of security threats especially if they have previously occurred on the premises.
  • Incompetent, unsupervised or intoxicated security staff: the property owner or manager should ensure that security staff employed to guard the property are competent and capable of performing their duties.
  • Inadequate screening: property owners and managers should ensure that guests entering the property are screened adequately by security personnel.

Foreseeability of an attack is vital in determining liability and compensation. Three factors are used to determine foreseeability:

  1. The particular circumstances of the incident e.g. location, layout, condition etc.
  2. The occurrence of prior similar incidents
  3. Imminent harm based on the vicinity or history of the property.
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