Claims for inadequate security are rooted in premises liability. Generally speaking, property owners in the Commonwealth are responsible for providing reasonably safe premises, free from all foreseeable hazards to all lawful visitors. This applies to commercial property and residential property owners alike. There may be no specific regulations or requirements as to what measures are deemed reasonable — it is important to evaluate all of the facts and circumstances of each case.
Property owners are not required to guarantee safety for all visitors — what we look at is the reasonableness of the actions taken in light of any foreseeable harm.
In addition to reasonableness, the other important factor when looking at inadequate security cases is the foreseeability of the crime or violent act. Courts in the Commonwealth look to several factors when determining foreseeability. These include whether the area is known to be a high crime area, a history of prior criminal episodes on the premises, the unruly behavior of one or more persons on or just off the premises, a display of weapons, and failure to provide security, such as security guards or police details.
As with all personal injury cases — the damages you may recover for include medical costs, lost wages and lost earnings, scarring, pain, and suffering, and a spouse may have a claim for loss of consortium.
If you are the victim of a violent act due to inadequate or negligent security, it is important to consult with an attorney about what rights you may have.
Examples of negligent security cases in the Commonwealth:
A jury was warranted in finding that the stabbing of a hotel guest was a reasonably foreseeable risk created by the hotel’s negligent security precautions where the hotel was located in a medium to moderately high crime area. The hotel was aware of prior criminal activity on and off the premises and only assigned one security guard to patrol the hotel along with another several blocks away.
When determining foreseeability of the risk of harm in a case where the plaintiff was stabbed to death in a bus terminal, evidence of the neighborhood in which the premises were located, as well as the type of persons who frequent the terminal, were all relevant.
A college was found liable to a student who was raped on campus after determining that the college failed to provide adequate security for its students.
A patron recovered against a gas station after being attacked and stabbed at the gas station. The court found that the owner/operator of the gas station knew of the danger of violence from third persons and failed to act reasonably when it was known that the attacker had been loitering on the premises and bothering patrons for some time.