Have you ever been injured while on someone else’s property? Do you have reasons to believe that an owner’s failure to limit access to the property resulted in unnecessary personal injury? If so, you may wonder if property owners can be held responsible for a plaintiff’s harm. Sadly, the answer is that it depends on the jurisdiction and circumstances surrounding the personal injury incident.
In Maryland, negligent security laws generally allow victims to hold owners of commercial properties accountable for protecting visitors from foreseeable criminal dangers that may result in someone suffering a personal injury.
If you visit someone else’s property and get injured, you may be able to sue the property owner for negligent security. But what exactly is negligent security? And how do these laws apply to visitors on other people’s property in Baltimore? We’ll address these concerns below.
What Is Negligent Security?
Unfortunately, criminal activity doesn’t discriminate based on race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status. As a result, anyone in Baltimore County can be a victim of a crime. And while we all hope that it will never happen to us, the sad reality is that it can.
Therefore, owners have to take reasonable precautionary measures to protect their visitors. Unfortunately, not every commercial property owner takes this legal obligation seriously, often resulting in an avoidable negligent security accident and injuries.
Maryland premises liability law applies to negligent security claims. Landlords can be held responsible for the damages when they fail to take reasonable measures to protect their visitors from foreseeable criminal dangers.
Why Negligent Security and Premises Liability Statutes Exist
Negligent security laws exist to protect Baltimore residents from foreseeable hazards like assault, rape, or murder. While specifics regarding these laws vary by jurisdiction, they all generally require property owners to take reasonable steps to keep visitors safe.
These laws are designed to protect visitors from foreseeable injuries. Take the example of a property owner who knows or should know that there is a dangerous condition on the premises and fails to take reasonable steps to fix it. In that case, the owner may be liable for injuries that occur. These laws mostly apply to landlords and other business or property owners; however, they do sometimes apply to residential ones as well.
For example, suppose a residential property owner knows crime is an issue in the neighborhood and fails to protect visitors by implementing safety measures such as installing adequate security systems and improving upon poor lighting scenarios.
In that case, the owner may be liable for any injuries. If you or your legal representation can prove that an owner was negligent in providing adequate security or maintenance, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your injuries.
Who Can Be Held Liable in Negligent Security Lawsuits?
In general, any owner can be held liable for an inadequate security claim if they fail to take reasonable measures to protect their visitors from foreseeable harm, such as criminal dangers. But there are some exceptions to this rule in liability cases like this.
Historically, the liability in a negligent security case in Baltimore County starts with responsibility or duty. In Maryland, property owners generally don’t have a duty to protect patrons or anyone else from a third party’s criminal activity, yet there are exceptions that exist in premises liability cases such as these, including under the following circumstances:
Custodial Control Over the Tortfeasor
There has to be a relationship between the property owner and the person that caused the injury for the former to have a duty to protect those who visit their premises. For example, if a bouncer is too drunk to work and ends up injuring someone, their employer, the bar, could be held liable because they had a duty to protect their patrons from intoxicated employees.
In some cases, a special relationship between the property owner and the victim may also create a duty to protect.
Take the example of a situation where a property owner knows that a tenant at their apartment complex is being stalked. The landlord does not take adequate measures to protect tenants, such as providing security at their apartment complexes. The landlord or property management company may be liable for failing to provide adequate protection if the stalker attacks the tenant.
In some cases, a law may impose a duty on the property owner to protect visitors from foreseeable risk. For example, the law may require landlords to provide working locks on doors and windows to demonstrate that they are taking proper security measures to keep inhabitants safe.
A multitude of other scenarios, such as instances in which inadequate staffing or the negligent sale of alcohol results in a security danger, could also result in an owner facing a civil lawsuit.
Why Hold a Property Owner Liable Over Criminal Perpetrators?
Why do individuals who’ve suffered a personal injury sue commercial property owners for the actions of third parties instead of holding the criminals who actually committed the wrongful acts accountable?
The answer is simple. Often, the criminal has no money or assets, making it difficult to recover any damages from them. Additionally, in some cases, their identity and whereabouts are unknown.
What Are Some Examples of Negligent Security?
At this point, it’s clear what may or may not fall under negligent security, but here are some concrete examples of situations in which a person or entity’s failure to take adequate security measures can lead to serious injuries:
- Lack of adequate lighting in a parking lot or parking garage
- Inadequate security cameras
- Poorly trained or equipped security guards
- Failure to background check employees
- Insufficient security guards present
- Broken or missing locks
- Failure to monitor who enters a building
If you were injured on another person’s property and believe it was due to negligent or inadequate security, you might have a valid personal injury claim. We’ll discuss the circumstances that may apply to a legitimate negligent security case that resulted in severe injuries when you attend your free consultation with an experienced Baltimore negligent security lawyer on our team.
What Types of Injuries Can Result From Inadequate Security?
Unattended, inexperienced, or absent security guards make it simpler for intruders to target clients or residents. Other security problems—such as doors that are unlocked and unguarded, surveillance systems that fail to work correctly, or burnt-out lighting in public areas—all pose a danger and risk.
Victims of a criminal act like a violent robbery, sexual assault, or home invasion can suffer various injuries, some severe or even life-threatening. Depending on the type of attack, victims may deal with:
- Bone fractures
- Cuts, scrapes, and bruises
- Gunshot wounds
- Eye injuries resulting in vision loss
- Internal organ injuries
- Loss of limbs, including fingers or toes
- Paralysis (paraplegia, quadriplegia, tetraplegia)
- Permanent disability or impairment
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety resulting from the assault
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
The list goes on, but you get the idea—when security is inadequate, people can get hurt, sometimes severely. While some of these injuries can be addressed via conservative treatments like physical therapy, that’s not helpful in countless other cases.
Maryland Personal Injury Laws and Statutory Rules
In Maryland, you have limited time to go to court and file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations, and it usually falls three years after the date of the accident. Therefore, if you want to pursue your injury case, keep this deadline in mind and plan to take legal action accordingly.
Even if you’re only filing an insurance claim, you’ll want to leave time to pursue going to court if you cannot reach an out-of-court settlement with an insurer. If you don’t submit your lawsuit before the three-year deadline passes, you will lose your right to have your day in court.
Special rules apply when the defendant is a government agency. The formal statute of limitations for a negligent security claim against a state government agency is one year. There is a three-year statute of limitations to filing negligent security lawsuits.
Don’t Dismiss Shared Fault Rules in Maryland
To the dismay of many injured people, the state of Maryland follows a shared fault rule that applies to civil lawsuits like these. This rule says that if you are partially responsible (even 1%) for a personal injury accident like this, Maryland courts will not award damages even if the property owner is primarily responsible for the plaintiff’s negligent security injuries.
So, you’ll need to tread carefully before admitting guilt or responsibility for the accident. So, if you’re partially to blame for not being more careful on another person’s premises—even if the property owner defendant breached their duty to provide adequate protection and thus was also negligent—you may not be able to recover damages for your injuries.
Damages You Can Claim Due To Negligent Security
If you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim against the at-fault party for failing to take ordinary care and provide adequate security or a premises failure, you may be able to recover various types of damages. These damages are divided into economic and non-economic losses.
These losses are quantifiable expenses related to the accident, such as:
- Cost of medical treatment, including therapy, rehabilitation, and surgeries
- Lost wages if you must miss work due to your injuries
- Loss of future earnings if your injuries cause a long-term disability
- Damage to personal property, such as a car or cellphone
When it comes to non-economic losses, they are more subjective and include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (loss of companionship or support from a spouse)
The Impact Foreseeability Has on Liability in Negligent Security Cases
Foreseeability is crucial in determining whether a property owner can be held liable for injuries suffered by someone on their premises. For a landowner defendant to be held responsible, the plaintiff must prove that the landlord knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and that the property owner failed to take action to fix it.
Negligent security cases are much like medical malpractice cases in that they can be tricky to prove. Having an attorney client relationship with an experienced personal injury lawyer like ours at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC is vital to help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.
What Should You Do if You’ve Been Injured?
You should seek medical attention if you’ve been injured on another’s property. Make sure to hold on to any medical bills you receive when you do so. You should then contact a Baltimore negligent security lawyer in our office at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC to understand your legal rights and options.
An experienced negligent security attorney will review your case’s facts. Your lawyer will rely on that analysis to determine if you have a valid negligent security claim under Maryland law. Once your attorney reviews the information, they can help you file paperwork, liability claims, and negligent security lawsuits within the statutory deadline that applies to your case.
Contact a Negligent Security Attorney in Baltimore Today
There’s nothing worse than sustaining severe or life-threatening injuries because of another person’s negligence. Fortunately, when that negligence results from inadequate security, you may be able to take legal action.
So, if you were the victim of a robbery, assault, or other violent crime because of insufficient protection, reach out to a hard-working Baltimore negligent security attorney at the law firm of Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC today to schedule a free legal consultation so our team can get to work for you.