Every business that makes its facilities open to the public risks a degree of premises liability. The term premises liability refers to legal and financial responsibility for injuries incurred by others due to the condition of a property. Businesses with public facilities, property owners and landlords have to invest substantially in the maintenance of properties to ensure they are reasonably safe.

Many cases involving premises liability claims begin with unsafe property conditions and inadequate facility maintenance. If the floor in a stairwell begins to peel up, that tripping hazard could lead to serious injuries and possibly even a lawsuit. However, premises liability can also relate to the failure to protect visitors from easily foreseeable risk factors, such as certain types of criminal activity. Negligence security claims may arise when businesses or property owners may have left people unnecessarily vulnerable to criminal activity.

When are security practices negligent?

Obviously, businesses cannot reasonably predict everything that those intent on breaking the law might do. Some crimes are truly unpredictable and are only the fault of a person who makes the decision to violate the law.

However, other types of crimes are somewhat predictable, especially near certain businesses or in specific neighborhoods. Robberies near ATMs are a common occurrence. Fistfights might regularly occur outside of nightclubs and sports bars. Businesses should attempt to identify likely criminal concerns related to their proposed business model.

Taking reasonable steps to address obvious safety issues is a necessary part of doing business. For example, businesses should seek to minimize the risk of criminals targeting the company or those visiting its facilities. Small investments can go a long way toward deterring criminal conduct. Having lighting in parking lots and other outdoor spaces can deter opportunistic criminals. Hiring security guards, installing secure entrances and having visible security cameras can help to deter some criminal activity near a business.

To hold of business accountable for negligent security, someone affected by criminal activity needs to establish that better security practices by the business could have prevented an injurious criminal incident or reduced the severity of its outcome.

Reviewing a police report related to an incident and other evidence – with the assistance of a skilled legal team – can help someone determine whether they are in a position to pursue a premises liability claim on the basis of negligent security practices. If a business truly was negligent, then the victim of a recent criminal incident could potentially recover medical expenses and other economic losses related to the incident accordingly.