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Denton/Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Inadequate Security Attorneys

Inadequate Security

Criminal activity can affect any of us at any time.  However, many questions are raised when someone is violently attacked on another’s property. Unfortunately, inadequate security on the premises of taverns, bars, restaurants, apartment buildings, shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, and other commercial properties or public events is a common cause of injuries from violent crimes in Texas. Unlit parking lots, broken locks, dark corridors, inadequate lighting, non-functioning surveillance, and/or lack of appropriate security personnel, and make it easier for criminals to commit robbery, rape, and other physical assaults on unsuspecting victims. The reality is that many of these criminal attacks could be prevented by the use of functioning surveillance cameras, sufficient number of property trained security guards, appropriate lighting and other reasonable security precautions.

Negligent or inadequate security is a species of premises liability dealing with civil compensation for crimes and violent acts. It is the basis by which an individual injured by a third party tries to hold liable the owner or tenant of the property where a criminal injury is inflicted. Inadequate security lawsuits in Texas directly depend on a business or property owner being aware of security risks that exist on their property but fail to take proper security measures to address such dangers.

In Texas, property owners are generally not held liable for the criminal activities of a third party; however, under certain specific circumstances, a victim of a violent crime may be able to file seek compensation for his or her injuries from a property owner. Under Texas law, property owners have an obligation to protect customers or guests from potential threats. When property owners fail to implement the reasonable and necessary security measures to discourage foreseeable criminal activity and protect their patrons, they can be held liable through Texas’ inadequate security laws. 

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured on someone else’s property due to inadequate security, you may be entitled to a recovery from the property owner or possessor of the premises.  However, proving inadequate security is often difficult, which is why you need the legal representation of Chandler | Ross Injury Attorneys who can investigate the circumstances surrounding your attack in order to build a strong case against the responsible party.

What is Inadequate Security?

Inadequate security, sometimes called negligent security, occurs when a business fails to provide adequate or reasonable security measures to prevent violent crimes against a tenant or customer. These types of cases are commonly referred to as inadequate security, negligent security, or lack of security claims. The cases can involve injuries to guests or customers on the premises, and they also can involve employees who are injured based on the common law duty that a “master use reasonable care to provide his servant with a reasonably safe place to work….”.

When dealing with inadequate security cases, each case is different, and the specific facts of each case will dictate whether a claim can be made when someone is injured or killed on someone else’s property and/or at a public venue.  In most inadequate security cases, the victim suffered injuries stemming from:

  • Criminal assaults
  • Battery
  • Robberies
  • Rapes
  • Murders
  • Other violent attacks

Common examples of inadequate security include the following:

  • Insufficient security personnel
  • Improperly trained security personnel
  • Failure to have a reasonable safety policy or procedure
  • Ignoring warning signs of potentially criminal conduct
  • Broken or lack of security cameras
  • Failure to alert guests of known risks or dangers
  • Failure to adequately protect patrons
  • Inadequate lighting in dark areas
  • Failure to repair broken physical barriers including gates, locks, fences and doors
  • Failure to properly maintain a safe premises

What Does a Plaintiff Need to Prove?

Under the Restatement (Second) of Torts, a plaintiff suing for negligent security must show that the landowner or the possessor of the premises failed to exercise reasonable care to:

  1. discover that such acts (similar prior criminal activities) are being done or likely to be done, or
  2. failed to give an adequate warning to enable visitors to avoid harm, or otherwise to protect them against it.

Plaintiff will also need to show the following:

  1. The plaintiff was on the property legally (not trespassing)
  2. the defendant breached its duty to offer and/or provide reasonable security on the premises,
  3. the plaintiff was hurt because of a third party’s acts that were reasonably foreseeable to the defendant,
  4. The plaintiff was injured or killed due to the lack of sufficient security,
  5. the plaintiff would not have been injured but for the defendant’s breached duty, and
  6. The plaintiff suffered damages, monetarily or physically, as a result of the criminal act on the premises.

Foreseeability is the critical issue in negligent or inadequate security cases. In Texas, courts will determine foreseeability primarily based on whether there were prior, similar crimes in the same location that the owner or possessor knew or should have known about. In addition, Texas courts have held that a property owner should have knowledge of recent criminal activity and incidents at or in the vicinity of the property, and such records can create a duty on the part of the owner to ensure adequate and responsive security measures are in place. The evidence must prove that specific previous crimes on or near the subject premises existed to establish foreseeability.  Foreseeability is considered in light of what the owner or manager knew or should have known before the criminal act occurred.

To make a determination regarding foreseeability, Texas courts consider the following factors:

  • whether previous criminal conduct occurred on or near the subject property (Note: Texas Courts generally use a small geographic area in considering crime in the immediate vicinity);
  • how recent the prior criminal acts occurred on or near the subject property;
  • the frequency of the criminal activity;
  • the degree of similarity between the previous illicit conduct and the conduct that led to the injuries suffered; and
  • the publicity or awareness of the previous occurrences, so as to determine what the landowner or property manager knew or should have known at the time the injuries occurred.

Examples of foreseeability in inadequate security cases include:

  • A tavern or bar owner is assumed to be aware that the nature of its business (the sale and on-site consumption of alcohol) gives rise to a high risk of criminal activity and the necessity for security measures, and is “bound to see that [patrons] are property protected from……the drunken and vicious men whom he may choose to harbor”. Therefore, if a rowdy person in a bar is noticeably drunk and yelling obscenities, then a reasonable security measure is removing the person from the premises. However, if the bar fails to do so and this person starts a fight with another patron, then it ignored the warning signs of potentially criminal conduct.  
  • If the bar let in a person with a history of starting fights at the bar. With this knowledge, the bar has an obligation to exclude this person from its premises in order to protect others.
  • If there were five prior rapes in a mall parking lot before the injuries at issue in a particular case, it is likely that the last rape would be considered foreseeable.

Negligent or inadequate security cases commonly require experts to help prove that negligent security occurred. Expert witnesses can shed light on background crime data of the area, the foreseeability of dangerous crime on the premises, and whether there was any security or sufficient security present to protect from criminal activity.

Responsibility of Texas Property Owners to Provide Adequate Security

Under Texas premises liability law, owners of commercial properties, including bars, taverns, nightclubs, apartment complexes, malls, etc., have a duty to provide reasonable safety precautions to prevent accidents and criminal attacks on their property.  A duty exists for the landowner or manager of the property to take reasonable safety measures to protect people on the premises with express or implied permission from foreseeable dangers posed by third parties.  In addition, there is a duty that an employer use reasonable care to provide his employees with a reasonably safe place to work.

If foreseeability of danger factors are established (see above), the property owner or manager must establish reasonable measures to protect others from suffering death or injury caused by the criminal or violent acts of others. Moreover, an owner can also be expected to meet the customary industry standards in the region for similar types of property and premises security.

Adequate lighting, security personnel or patrols, emergency call boxes, video surveillance and postings or signage are measures a property owner can implement to provide reasonable security to a premises. Experts in security analysis and services are available for hire to assist parties in analyzing the necessity for security and appropriate security measures.

It should be noted, that courts have held that ignorance of the potential for criminal activity in the area is not a reliable defense, as the standard includes whether the land possessor has ‘reason to know’. A possessor of land can be found to have a duty to investigate criminal activity in the area in connection with its premises.

Inadequate Security Claims in Denton, Dallas, and Fort Worth

Inadequate security claims frequently involve violent crimes such as rape and sexual assault, and other assaults, batteries, robberies, shootings, and stabbings, many of which result in fatalities. Innocent victims may be attacked in any number of locations due to inadequate security including:

  • Taverns and bars
  • Restaurants
  • Apartments
  • Nursing homes or assisted living centers
  • Parking lots
  • Parking garages
  • Malls and other shopping centers
  • Convenience stores
  • Movie theaters
  • Office buildings
  • Schools, colleges, and universities
  • Amusement parks
  • Hotels, motels, and resorts
  • Airports
  • Train and bus stations
  • Schools
  • Parks and recreational areas
  • Retail stores
  • ATMs

Injuries caused by a third-party due to negligent or inadequate security can be catastrophic. Brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe emotional injuries, lacerations, and even death can be the result of a violent crime. A negligent security claim can help you recover damages for extensive past and future medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, disfigurement, impairment and other recoverable damages.

Inadequate security lawsuits are complicated and will require legal experts to become involved. Because of this, it is extremely important that you consult with our qualified personal injury attorneys at Chandler | Ross, PLLC. Our attorneys have the resources to properly investigate your claim, retain qualified experts, and will work aggressively for you or your loved one to obtain the compensation for their injuries and damages that they deserve.

With offices in Denton, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas, Chandler | Ross, PLLC is well positioned to provide the most effective and highly-skilled Premises Liability – Inadequate Security Attorneys possible.  Don’t wait, and don’t compromise – contact us today for a Free Case Evaluation and see how we can help you.  In most cases, you pay nothing unless we settle your case or win a verdict.  Contact Us now at (940)-800-2500 to schedule your free personal injury case evaluation and consultation.