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What Is A Negligent Security Claim In Pennsylvania?

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Answered by: Evan Kelly

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A negligent security claim is a type of premises liability claim. In Pennsylvania, owners must keep their property safe for visitors. If they know, or should know, of a dangerous condition, they have a duty to fix it or warn their visitors about the hazard. If a visitor is injured on the property, that visitor may have a premises liability claim against the owner. A common premises liability claim is the slip-and-fall injury. Perhaps the owner failed to clear ice from steps or clean up a spill on the floor, and the visitor slipped and fell. The visitor could now sue the owner.

A negligent security claim differs from the slip-and-fall claim in that the visitor became the victim of a crime due to lapses in security measures. These crimes are typically violent and include:

  • Sexual assault/rape
  • Robbery
  • Homicide
  • Shooting
  • Assault and battery

Crime victims sometimes become lost in the criminal system. If a violent criminal targeted you, you may not feel as though the criminal justice system addressed your concerns. Perhaps you still need closure for the suffering you endured. Nothing can truly make up for what you have been through.

A civil lawsuit against the property owner, if appropriate, can help compensate you for your physical and emotional trauma. Speak with an experienced attorney to find out what options you may have regarding a civil claim.

Requirements for a negligent security claim

To bring a negligent security claim, you must show that the property owner knew or should have known about the possible dangers and failed to provide adequate security. Some violent crimes may be more foreseeable than others, depending on the location and circumstances. Places where violence may be more likely include:

  • Bars/nightclubs
  • Hotels
  • Sporting events
  • Parking garages/ramps

Unfortunately, crime can happen anywhere, and your safety and security should be protected no matter where you are. Even if someone attacked you in your own apartment, your landlord could be liable for inadequate building security.

Property owners can take several steps to improve security, such as adequate lighting, functioning locks, security cameras and security personnel. Failure to address security issues may be grounds for a negligence claim.

Governmental immunity

If your attack happened on government property, you may have more difficulty bringing a claim. States and municipalities enjoy a legal protection called sovereign immunity at the state level and governmental immunity at the municipal level. That means you cannot sue them without their consent. The law does have certain exceptions, however. Be sure to consult with a knowledgeable attorney about your situation before assuming you can’t bring a claim.

Related claims

Two other types of claims may fit your situation: dram shop liability and negligent hiring. Dram shop laws hold liquor establishments and even private social hosts liable for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person if that person injures someone else. For example, a bartender serves alcohol to an intoxicated person and that person starts a fight in the bar, injuring you in the process. You may hold the bartender liable for your injuries.

Negligent hiring occurs when an employer fails to do adequate background checks when hiring someone with a criminal or violent past, and the employee violently attacks another person on the property. For example, a parking garage owner hires a registered sex offender to work in the parking garage and the employee sexually assaults you on the way to your car, or a disgruntled employee with a history of violence goes on a shooting rampage. The employer should have done a better job of vetting the employee and may now be liable for your assault.

Violent crime leaves a lasting impact on its victims. You deserve all the compensation available to you for your pain and suffering.  Speak with an attorney experienced in negligent security claims to make sure your legal rights are protected.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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