If you are on another’s property and were injured due to a criminal attack by a third-party, then Alabama law may entitle you to sue and recover damages from the property owner or possessor. After all, you may be able to assert that the defendant is liable for negligent security — for failing to implement property safety measures to protect visitors from third-party criminal activity.
Negligent security claims are somewhat non-standard, so let’s clarify with a basic introduction to how they work.
Negligent security claims are a subcategory of premises liability claims. In essence, a defendant-landlord (or any other party “possessing” and “controlling” a given property) has a responsibility to maintain given premises in a reasonably safe condition for visitors. If a visitor is injured due to a dangerous condition of the property, then the defendant could be held liable for failing to correct the hazard, or for failing to warn the visitor about the hazard.
Where the situation can get confusing is third-party criminal activity.
Generally, there is no duty on a defendant — in the premises liability context — to protect visitors from third-party criminal activity, such as a battery or a mugging. However, a duty to take action (by taking steps to minimize such risks) will be imposed in circumstances where the third-party criminal activity was foreseeable.
The issue of foreseeability is central to the plaintiff presenting a successful negligent security claim. If the defendant who possesses the property at-issue (i.e., landlord, business owner, etc.) knew or should have known that there was a serious risk of third-party criminal activity, then they can potentially be held liable for not taking steps to manage that risk by implementing safety controls, such as by hiring security guards or installing additional premises lighting.
Foreseeability is perhaps best established through prior similar incidences.
If a retail store has never experienced a “parking lot mugging,” then the court may not find it reasonable to establish that the risk was foreseeable and that the store should have taken additional steps to improve safety.
On the other hand, if the same retail store experienced three parking lot muggings in the past year, then the risk would have been sufficiently foreseeable that the court is likely to evaluate whether they took adequate steps to heighten security. Failure to do so could then lead to liability pursuant to a negligent security claim.
Here at Cross & Smith, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience working with injured plaintiffs throughout Alabama, helping them litigate a wide range of disputes, including those centered around negligent security and premises liability claims.
Unlike many of our competitors, we invest significant time and resources towards each of our clients, engaging closely with them from start-to-finish. This thorough, client-oriented approach ensures that we understand the “nitty-gritty” details of their case, giving us unique insights into how best to litigate the dispute and secure a favorable result.
Ready to speak to an experienced Tuscaloosa injury attorney at Cross & Smith? Call us at 877-791-0618 or send us an intake form through our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.
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Posted By: Chuck Kelley