When someone owns a property in Maryland, the law requires them to keep those premises safe for people who live and visit. That includes things like maintaining walking areas and keeping the premises safe from fall hazards. But it also means protecting against foreseeable crime.
So what is negligent security? Negligent security means that a crime could have been prevented (or at least made less likely) if adequate security measures had been in place. It means there was a failure to prevent foreseeable criminal conduct from happening on the property.
Consider this example: A person notices a broken latch on the front entrance of an apartment building. They enter easily with the intent to steal and end up physically assaulting a tenant of the property. The crime could have been prevented had there been a working lock. Upon investigation, we find out that the landlord had noted the broken lock weeks ago but just hadn’t gotten around to making the repair. This is an example of negligent security.
Maryland Negligent Security Law
A negligent security case is a specific type of premises liability case. In personal injury law, premises liability is the legal practice area that handles incidents that occur on another person’s property. Slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, dog bites, and elevator and escalator malfunctions are similarly covered by civil premises liability law.
Under Maryland law, property owners have a duty to take measures to protect people on their property from foreseeable crimes committed by third parties. A property owner who fails to provide adequate protection may be liable if a crime takes place and someone is injured or killed. Crimes involved in negligent security cases often include theft, rape, assault, kidnapping, carjacking, attempted murder, and murder.
What Do You Need To Prove in a Negligent Security Case?
It can be difficult to prove that a premises owner was negligent in their security actions. In order to take civil legal action against a landlord or property owner, it must be shown that the defendant breached a duty of care owed to the injured plaintiff, and that the crime that caused the injury was, in fact, foreseeable.
Typically, in order to prove a negligent security case, it must be demonstrated that:
- The injured party was a legal visitor to the property
- The defendant owned or was legally responsible for the property
- The owner had a duty to provide adequate security measures
- The owner failed to uphold this duty
- The plaintiff suffered harm or injury from a foreseeable criminal act
- The owner’s failure to provide adequate security resulted in the victim’s injury
- The victim’s injury resulted in measurable damages (like medical bills and other losses)
Examples of Negligent Security
In Baltimore and across Maryland, people’s lives are shattered by crimes that adequate security could have prevented. The following are just a few examples of negligent security cases that may entitle the victim to take legal action against the property owner. Through a negligent security lawsuit, the plaintiff can recover both economic damages (such as medical expenses, cost of mental health care, property damage, and lost income from missed work) and noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering and PTSD).
Examples of negligent security:
- Inadequate lighting that allows criminals to follow tenants or customers to their cars at night
- Poorly-trained security guards who don’t know how to handle emergency situations
- Too few security guards when more are needed
- A lack of check-in and screening measures at the entrance
- Security guards not provided with the tools and resources they need
- Locks that are not changed when needed or fixed when broken
- Broken windows, gates, or fences
- Large event venues that don’t have proper crowd control measures
- Lack of emergency preparedness, active shooter protocol, or planned escape routes
- Lack of metal detectors when needed
- No surveillance cameras or non-working cameras
- Doors and gates left open
- Hiring security guards without conducting background checks
Not every property requires that same type of security measures. Property owners must take into account a variety of factors that dictate what type of security is needed. This requires landlords and other premises owners to consider the type of establishment, number of visitors or residents, geographical area, local crime rates, any recent crime spikes, any property attractions that may draw criminal activity (such as a bank vault), and other factors.
Where Do Negligent Security Cases Happen?
A negligent security case can happen anywhere. Whenever a property owner fails to do their part to keep others safe from criminal conduct, people can get hurt. Common locations seen in negligent security cases include:
- Schools, daycares, and college campuses
- Parking lots and parking garages
- Bars and nightclubs
- Entertainment venues
- Apartment complexes
- Gas stations and truck stops
- Shopping centers
- Office buildings
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Churches, places of worship, and religious centers
- Community centers
- Government buildings
Legal Help After an Injury Caused by Negligent Security
As a property owner, leaving the door open to criminal activity is careless, reckless, lazy, and, most of all, illegal. Often, it only takes a simple act of conscientiousness to stop a would-be criminal from acting—like changing the locks between tenants, fixing a broken parking lot lightbulb, or running a background check on a security guard before hiring.
If you or a loved one were victimized by a foreseeable crime on someone else’s property, you do not need to suffer the consequences on your own. At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we are a victim’s advocacy law firm. Our attorneys represent those whose rights and choices were taken away from them through the negligence of others. We strive to right the wrongs that impact far too many innocent people in Baltimore County and throughout the state of Maryland.
To learn more about the skilled legal representation we provide, contact our personal injury law office today. We will schedule a free consultation to answer your questions and discuss your legal path forward. A free case evaluation does not obligate you to hire a lawyer from our firm to handle your case.