Breaking Down a Negligent Security Claim
Despite a recent drop, Houston still has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. If apprehended and proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, these offenders face harsh punishments in criminal court. But a high percentage of violent crimes go unsolved, and an even higher percentage of offenders receive much less than the maximum sentence. In other words, if violent crime victims count on the criminal courts system for justice, they may be sorely disappointed.
Additionally, at best, a criminal conviction only partially compensates victims for their losses. Only a Sugar Land personal injury lawyer can obtain maximum compensation in criminal court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Moreover, civil claims hold negligent property owners responsible for the injuries they indirectly cause.
Duty of Care
Owners are usually responsible for the safety of their guests. It doesn’t matter if the hazard is a wet spot on a floor or a mugger lurking in a dark corner.
The duty of care is especially high if the victim was an invitee (invited commercial or social guest). Since the owner benefits in these situations, the owner has a duty of reasonable care. This duty requires owners to proactively remove injury hazards and make frequent safety inspections.
A few people, like guests of apartment tenants, are licensees. The duty of care is almost nonexistent in negligent security cases toward licensees. Owners must only warn them about latent (hidden) defects. Negligent security defects are usually obvious. More on that below.
If the victim was a trespasser, the owner had no duty of care. Tales of injured burglars who sued homeowners for damages are usually urban myths.
Knowledge of Hazard
In Texas, especially if the victim is an invitee, the owner has a duty to address security defects, such as:
- Nonfunctioning cameras,
- Burned-out lights,
- Unlocked gates,
- Unsecure parking facilities, and
- Inadequate security level (e.g. a “courtesy patrol” instead of an armed guard).
A Missouri City personal injury lawyer may use direct or circumstantial evidence to prove the owner knew about the hazard.
Security surveys and emergency calls, either to the owner or 9-1-1, are the most common kinds of direct evidence. This proof is very compelling and usually makes a case very strong.
Courts use the time-notice rule to evaluate circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known). If a security light was burned out for more than a day or two, even if no one reported it, the owner should have gnome about it and should have addressed it, mostly because of the aforementioned duty of care.
Foreseeability of Injury
Assaults and other such crimes could happen to anyone at any time. Owners are only financially responsible for damages if the injury was foreseeable (possible), from their perspective. Evidence of foreseeability includes prior similar incidents in the area, the neighborhood’s crime rate, and the location of the business. These factors basically put an owner on notice that a security lapse could cause injury.
The burden of proof on this point is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a little proof goes a long way.
Connect With a Tough-Minded Fort Bend County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Missouri City, contact the Henrietta Ezeoke Law Firm. We routinely handle matters throughout Greater Houston.