While most property-related injury claims center on occurrences such as falls and other preventable injuries, accidental physical injury is not the only area in which property managers and owners must exercise caution. Equally important in property liability is the provision of security for visitors to a store or commercial property.
Creating a safe environment for visitors is not restricted to typical property maintenance such as warning signs, proper lighting, and care for damaged or dangerous areas. Owners must also ensure that visitors to their site are safe from attacks from unauthorized persons. An adequately staffed and trained security force is essential in creating a safe environment.
Many commercial locations, such as malls, parking garages, and commercial buildings, employ security staff members in order to deter violent or sexual attacks by predators. Petty criminals and predators often frequent such locations to take advantage of secluded or low-traffic areas, where visitors may be vulnerable. These staff members also must be able to respond to minor medical emergencies in the event of an accident or incident on the premises. Often, security officers are trained to double as first responders, with basic CPR and rescue training. Having a competent and well-trained staff could prevent an attack on the property, and can protect the property owner from claims of negligent security in the event of an incident.
In the event a physical or sexual attack takes place on a commercial property, the victim may have a claim based on negligent security statutes. In order to prove a negligent security claim, the plaintiff must be able to demonstrate a known threat (such as other violent attacks in the area) and additionally demonstrate that the property owner should have been aware of the threat and was negligent in providing an adequate security presence to prevent the incident. This information may originate in police reports on other crimes in the area, or previous reports of violence on the property. Demonstrating willful negligence is the key element in success when litigating a negligent security suit.
As the victim, it is important to remember that, in most cases, a personal attack of this variety (especially attacks of a sexual nature) requires both medical intervention, and the collection and processing of any physical evidence from your person. In many cases, an attack has an isolating effect whereby the victimized individual wishes to rid themselves of the painful emotional and physical aftermath of the attack, and return to a “safe” place (in most cases, their home) and try and forget the incident. Despite the strong urge to the contrary, it is important to be seen by both police and medical personnel, who will be able to collect vital evidence and assess any injuries incurred during the attack. In the case of sexual assault, medical testing and counseling will also be available to help in starting the recovery process.
While often the furthest thing from a victim’s mind at the time of an attack, the evidence and reports collected during the interview and treatment process can also be used in the pursuit of a future claim, in the event negligent security was to blame for the assault. An experienced premises liability attorney can help you if you’ve been injured as a result of negligent security.
Ty Wilson is an Atlanta personal injury attorney with offices in Savannah and strives to educate the injured as he helps them. He has authored various books and reports that he offers to the public. Call his office at 1-866-937-5454 for an evaluation of your claim.