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Negligent Security Lawyer

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Your guide to Negligent Security in Utah

Understanding the nuances of negligent security requires an in-depth look at the legal foundations that govern these claims, which include the interpretation of duty of care, breach of that duty, and the link between the breach and the harm suffered. It is within this legal framework that the responsibilities of property owners are defined, and the protections for individuals on their property are established.

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Tyler N. Eaton, Esq.

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Negligent security is a critical term in the realm of personal injury law that denotes a failure on the part of property owners to provide adequate protection to individuals on their premises. This term encapsulates the idea that property owners, and sometimes tenants, have a duty to ensure that the environment is reasonably safe from foreseeable criminal acts that could cause harm to visitors, employees, or residents. When a lack of proper security measures leads to injury or harm, the concept of negligent security comes into play.

Central to understanding negligent security is the legal obligation known as 'duty of care'. In essence, this principle mandates that property owners must take steps to guard against possible dangers that they can reasonably anticipate. This is not to suggest that a property owner can predict every potential incident; rather, they are expected to implement and maintain security measures that are commensurate with the known risks associated with their property. Security measures may include adequate lighting, functioning locks, security personnel, surveillance cameras, and secure gates or fences. The absence or failure of these elements can leave patrons vulnerable to harm from criminal activity, and consequently, render property owners liable for damages arising from their neglect.

Negligent security cases are part of broader premises liability claims, which hold property owners responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their property due to a variety of hazardous conditions, including criminal acts. The crux of a negligent security claim is based on the premise that the injury suffered was foreseeable and could have been prevented through the use of reasonable security measures. This foreseeability factor is crucial in determining the viability of a negligent security claim, as it ties the idea of reasonable security directly to what the property owner should have anticipated in terms of potential criminal activity.

The importance of security measures cannot be overstated as they are the practical embodiment of the property owner's duty of care. When properly implemented, they serve not only as a deterrent to criminal activity but also as a means of ensuring the trust and safety of those who enter the premises. It's the assurance that comes from these protective measures which encourages patrons to frequent businesses, guests to stay in hotels, and tenants to lease apartments. On the other hand, inadequate security can lead to theft, assault, and other forms of violence that cause lasting physical and emotional scars on victims.

In the eyes of the law, the standard of care expected of property owners is not static; it is informed by the specific context of the property, including its location, the nature of the business conducted there, previous incidents of crime, and even the cost of security measures in relation to the risks involved. A luxury apartment complex in a high-crime area, for instance, may be expected to have a higher level of security in comparison to a small retail store in a low-crime neighborhood. However, regardless of the context, the underlying principle is consistent: property owners must not be negligent in providing a secure environment.

Negligent security incidents can occur in various settings, such as shopping centers, nightclubs, office buildings, universities, and apartment complexes, each with their own unique set of risks and security challenges. When security negligence leads to a criminal act that causes harm, it raises the question of whether the property owner did enough to prevent such an incident. Victims of such incidents may suffer injuries, psychological trauma, or worse. Consequently, the legal implications of negligent security carry considerable weight, as they involve not only compensating victims for their losses but also encouraging property owners to maintain safe environments for everyone.

Understanding the nuances of negligent security requires an in-depth look at the legal foundations that govern these claims, which include the interpretation of duty of care, breach of that duty, and the link between the breach and the harm suffered. It is within this legal framework that the responsibilities of property owners are defined, and the protections for individuals on their property are established.

What is a negligent security case?

Legal Foundations of Negligent Security

Negligent security claims hinge on the foundational legal principle of premises liability, which imposes on property owners the duty to maintain a safe environment for those who lawfully enter their premises. To establish liability in negligent security cases, it is essential to prove that the property owner breached their duty of care, and this breach was a substantial factor in causing the harm suffered by the plaintiff.

Duty of Care and Premises Liability


In legal terms, the duty of care is an obligation to act in a manner that a reasonably prudent person would in comparable circumstances. In the context of premises liability, this means that property owners must take reasonable steps to ensure their property is safe from foreseeable dangers. This duty is not only applicable to physical defects on the property but also extends to the protection of individuals from foreseeable criminal activity.

The notion of what is "reasonable" is a keystone in determining duty of care. For property owners, reasonableness encompasses activities such as regular property inspections, implementing sufficient security measures, and promptly addressing known security deficiencies. When property owners fall short of these activities, they can be found to have breached their duty of care.

Breach of Duty

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A breach of this duty occurs when the property owner's actions do not meet the standard of reasonable care. In negligent security cases, a breach may manifest in various ways, such as failing to repair a broken lock, not hiring adequate security staff for an event known to attract large crowds, or neglecting to install surveillance cameras in areas with a history of criminal incidents.

Establishing a breach requires an examination of what the property owner did or did not do in light of what was reasonably expected. Was there a known risk of harm that the property owner ignored? Did the property owner disregard advice or warnings about potential security issues? Answering such questions affirmatively may constitute evidence of a breach.

Foreseeability and Causation


For a property owner to be held liable for negligent security, the harm suffered must have been a foreseeable result of their breach of duty. Foreseeability is pivotal because it connects the duty of care directly to the plaintiff's injuries. The question here is whether a reasonable property owner, under similar circumstances, could have predicted that their lack of security measures would likely result in harm.

This concept does not mean that property owners must be omniscient or guard against all conceivable dangers; rather, they must protect against risks that are foreseeable based on past experiences, common occurrences, or explicit threats. For instance, if a property has been the site of multiple break-ins, it is foreseeable that future break-ins might occur if security is not enhanced.

Causation, meanwhile, requires that the plaintiff's injuries are closely linked to the property owner's breach. In other words, it must be shown that the harm would not have occurred but for the owner's negligence. This establishes that the breach of duty was the actual cause of the injuries sustained.

Legal Principles in Action

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In the courtroom, the principles of duty of care, breach, foreseeability, and causation are dissected and analyzed rigorously. Courts look at prior case law, statutes, and security industry standards to determine what constitutes reasonable security measures. They also consider expert testimony, which often plays a crucial role in establishing what a property owner should have foreseen and how they should have acted.

One seminal case that helped shape the understanding of negligent security is the landmark decision where the court determined that a landlord had a duty to take reasonable measures to secure common areas in an apartment building where crime was rampant. The court's decision in this case brought to the forefront the property owner's responsibility to anticipate criminal acts and take preventive steps when such acts were foreseeable.

Legal principles are also informed by evolving technology and societal standards. What was once considered adequate security may no longer suffice as new threats emerge and as the capabilities of security systems improve. Property owners must adapt their security measures to reflect these changes and maintain a standard of care consistent with contemporary expectations.

The Outcome of Negligence

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If the elements of duty of care, breach, foreseeability, and causation are established, the property owner may be found liable for the damages sustained by the victim. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and, in some cases, punitive damages designed to punish particularly egregious conduct and deter future negligence.

Negligent security claims, therefore, serve as a crucial check on property owners, ensuring they uphold their legal responsibilities to provide a safe environment. They incentivize property owners to proactively assess and rectify security vulnerabilities, thus reducing the likelihood of preventable harm coming to those who visit or reside on their premises.

By dissecting these legal foundations, one can appreciate the nuances that define negligent security claims. It becomes clear that such claims are not merely about assigning blame but about maintaining a societal standard for the safety and well-being of individuals in various spaces. The legal principles that underpin these claims articulate a clear message: property owners must be vigilant custodians of the environments they control, and any dereliction of this duty carries with it significant legal and moral consequences.

Steps to Take After a Negligent Security Incident

When an individual falls victim to a crime or injury due to negligent security, the steps taken immediately afterward are critical. Here is a step-by-step guide on what to do following a negligent security incident.


Assess Personal Safety:

The very first concern following an incident is your personal safety. If you are in immediate danger, seek a safe location before doing anything else. Once you're in a secure place, assess your situation. If you can safely do so, take note of any immediate threats or ongoing risks in the environment, as this information may later support the claim that the security was indeed negligent.

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a police officer


Contact Law Enforcement:

As soon as it's safe to do so, contact law enforcement to report the incident. This is vital, as a police report provides an official record that the incident occurred, which will be important evidence in your case. When the authorities arrive, explain what happened in as much detail as you can recall. Try to be precise with the facts and avoid speculating or exaggerating the circumstances.


Seek Medical Attention

Even if you do not believe you were seriously injured, it's crucial to be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Some injuries, especially those related to trauma, may not be immediately apparent. A thorough medical examination will document any injuries that resulted from the incident and establish a link between the incident and your injuries, which is essential for a future negligent security claim.



Document Everything

If possible, take photographs or videos of the location where the incident occurred, focusing on lighting, locks, security cameras, or lack thereof—any conditions that might indicate poor security. Write down your account of the event as soon as possible while the details are fresh in your memory, including the date, time, and any other pertinent information. This narrative can be vital, as memories tend to fade over time.

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Gather and Preserve Evidence

If there were any witnesses to the incident, ask for their names and contact information. Witness statements can bolster your claim by corroborating your account. Also, keep any physical evidence intact, such as torn clothing or damaged personal items, as they may be used in court.

a person hushing
someone holding a police report


Avoid Public Statements

Refrain from discussing the incident on social media or with anyone other than your attorney. Public statements can be used against you in court. It's particularly crucial not to post anything on social media that may be interpreted as contradictory to your claim of injury or distress.


8. Do Not Negotiate with Property Owners or Insurers

Property owners or their insurance companies may contact you in the aftermath of an incident. It is important to refrain from engaging in negotiations or discussions about settlements without legal representation. These entities may attempt to offer a settlement quickly to minimize their losses, but such offers are often far less than what you may be entitled to.

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Tyler Eaton - Utah Car Accident Lawyer

Free Consultation with a Negligent Security Lawyer

Early consultation with an attorney who specializes in negligent security cases is essential. An experienced negligent security lawyer can provide legal advice tailored to your situation, help preserve your rights, and begin the process of building a strong case. They will also manage communication with property owners, their attorneys, and insurance companies on your behalf.

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The Role of Expert Legal Assistance

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An attorney with experience in negligent security cases brings a wealth of knowledge and specific skillsets that are critical to navigating the claim process and achieving just compensation.

The benefits of hiring an experienced lawyer for a negligent security claim can be vast and multifaceted. One of the most immediate advantages is the lawyer's in-depth understanding of the law. Each state may have its unique statutes and case law precedents that pertain to negligent security. A skilled lawyer will have a firm grasp of these laws and understand how to apply them effectively to the specifics of a client’s case.

Understanding the complexities of legal doctrines such as foreseeability and the duty of care is another area where specialized attorneys excel. They are adept at constructing cogent arguments that property owners should have foreseen the potential for harm and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it. This forms the crux of many negligent security claims, and a nuanced presentation of these arguments can significantly influence the outcome of a case.

Expert lawyers also bring with them procedural expertise. The path to a successful claim involves numerous steps - from filing the necessary paperwork within statutory time limits to managing the intricacies of the discovery process. Experienced negligent security lawyers are well-versed in these procedures, ensuring that there are no costly missteps that could jeopardize the case.

A key benefit of having legal representation from a negligent security lawyer is the capacity for thorough investigation. Negligent security cases often hinge on minute details that prove a property owner’s negligence. Seasoned negligent security attorneys have resources at their disposal to investigate the incident comprehensively. This includes interviewing witnesses, securing surveillance footage, and often enlisting the help of security experts who can testify to the inadequacies of the measures in place.

Another essential service that expert negligent security lawyers provide is valuation of damages. Victims might not fully understand the range of compensation to which they are entitled. Beyond immediate medical expenses, claims may include lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and even punitive damages in cases of gross negligence. An experienced attorney will carefully assess all possible damages to ensure that any settlement or judgment accounts for the full extent of their client’s losses.

Perhaps one of the most underappreciated aspects of expert legal assistance from a negligent security lawyer is negotiation skills. Many negligent security claims are resolved through settlements. Lawyers with a background in these types of cases will have honed their negotiation techniques, often securing higher settlement amounts than what clients might achieve on their own. This is partially due to the implied threat of a well-prepared negligent security attorney taking the case to trial if the settlement offer is unsatisfactory, which can provide leverage in negotiations.

Moreover, if a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, a seasoned negligent security attorney is fully prepared to take the case to trial. The courtroom requires a different set of skills altogether, from selecting a sympathetic jury to presenting compelling evidence and delivering persuasive oral arguments. The right negligent security lawyer can make a significant impact on the verdict, and by extension, on the compensation awarded.

Throughout the claim process, expert legal assistance also offers the benefit of objective advice. Emotional involvement can cloud a victim's judgment, potentially leading to rash decisions such as accepting a low settlement offer. A negligent security attorney acts as a detached third party, providing clear-headed counsel based on years of experience and legal knowledge rather than emotional reactions.

Not to be overlooked is the psychological comfort that comes from having a dedicated advocate on one's side. Dealing with the legal system can be daunting, and it's easy for victims to feel outmatched by property owners and their insurance companies. An attorney not only levels the playing field but also reassures clients that their interests are being vigorously defended, allowing them to focus on recovery instead of legal battles.

In essence, the expertise an experienced negligent security lawyer brings to the table is extensive and covers every facet of the claim process, from the initial investigation to the final resolution, be it a settlement or trial. Their comprehensive support is vital in overcoming the hurdles and complexities that such cases present. By hiring skilled legal representation, victims significantly enhance their chances of obtaining the full measure of justice and compensation to which they are entitled.

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Property Owner Responsibilities

Property owners are vested with a fundamental duty to ensure that individuals who enter their premises are safe from unreasonable risks of harm, including those that may arise from criminal activity. This duty extends beyond basic structural maintenance to incorporate aspects of security that protect lawful visitors from foreseeable threats. The complexity of these responsibilities can differ based on various factors, such as the type of property in question and the nature of business conducted there.


Nature of Property and Security Responsibilities

Residential Properties

In residential settings, such as apartment complexes, the responsibilities of property owners are particularly pronounced. They are tasked with securing the premises by maintaining locks, providing adequate lighting in common areas, and, where appropriate, employing security personnel or installing security cameras. The expectations are even higher when the residential complex includes amenities like gyms or swimming pools, where access control becomes paramount to prevent unauthorized entry.

Commercial Properties

Commercial property owners, like those who own shopping malls or office buildings, must contend with a higher volume of foot traffic and a greater potential for crimes such as theft or violence. Therefore, their approach to security often involves more complex systems, including monitored surveillance cameras, trained security guards, and structured emergency response plans that detail how to react to various security threats.

Specialized Facilities

Specialized facilities such as hospitals, schools, and banks present unique challenges and thus require tailored security protocols. For example, hospitals must balance accessibility and the need for emergency services with the safety of patients, visitors, and staff. This balance is often achieved through the use of controlled access systems, security checkpoints, and constant surveillance. Similarly, schools must safeguard students and staff while maintaining an environment conducive to education, often necessitating specialized security personnel and protocols for dealing with a range of threats, from bullying to active shooter situations.

A shield with a check in the middle
a police officer


Security Measures and Standards

The exact nature of the security measures property owners are required to undertake can vary significantly. However, there are standard practices that many follow to fulfill their duty of care. Regular risk assessments are a critical starting point; these help to identify potential security vulnerabilities. Following these assessments, property owners should take concrete steps to mitigate identified risks, which could include:

  • Installing security hardware such as locks, alarms, and surveillance systems.

  • Hiring competent security staff who are trained to handle various situations.

  • Implementing policies and procedures for visitors and employees to enhance security, such as ID badges and sign-in protocols.

  • Ensuring regular maintenance and prompt repair of security equipment.

  • Providing adequate lighting in all areas of the property to increase visibility and deter criminal activity.

  • Establishing clear lines of communication with local law enforcement for prompt response to any incidents.


Industry Standards and Legal Obligations

Compliance with industry standards and local, state, and federal regulations also form a significant part of a property owner's responsibilities. Many industries have specific standards that outline what security measures are considered adequate. For example, the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) provides guidelines for various types of security protocols that many property owners may be expected to follow.

Moreover, building codes and occupational safety regulations often have provisions that indirectly impact security, such as requirements for emergency exits and fire alarms, which property owners must adhere to under the law. Failure to comply with these regulations could serve as evidence of negligence in the event of a security breach resulting in injury or loss.



Customizing Security to the Business

The nature of the business conducted on a property can greatly influence the requisite level of security. High-risk businesses, such as banks, jewelry stores, or pharmaceutical companies, demand more stringent security measures due to the inherent value of the items or information they house. In such cases, property owners may be expected to implement advanced security measures, including biometric access controls, timed safes, or bullet-resistant barriers.

Conversely, a small retail business or a family-owned restaurant may not need such elaborate security systems. Still, owners must ensure they have basic security measures in place, such as secure locks and an adequately lit exterior, to protect against common crimes like burglary or vandalism.

someone holding a police report


Adjusting to Changes in Crime Trends and Technology

Property owners must be responsive to changes in crime trends and advances in security technology. As criminal tactics evolve, so too must the strategies employed to counteract them. This might mean upgrading older security systems, incorporating cyber security measures for properties reliant on digital technologies, or retraining staff to handle emergent threats.

Advancements in technology also provide new tools that property owners can leverage to improve security. The integration of smart security systems, which can include everything from automated access controls to real-time monitoring capabilities, is becoming more prevalent. Property owners are increasingly expected to make use of these technologies to provide proactive security solutions that prevent incidents before they occur.

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people by a checklist


Liability for Third-Party Security Services

Many property owners opt to contract third-party companies to provide security services. While this can be an effective way to manage security, property owners cannot abdicate their responsibilities entirely to these third parties. They must conduct due diligence to ensure that the companies they hire are reputable, properly licensed, and adequately insured. They must also actively monitor the effectiveness of the security services provided and make necessary adjustments when deficiencies are identified.

Property owners are expected to take a proactive approach to security, continuously evaluating the efficacy of their measures and making improvements where needed. The responsibilities associated with providing a secure environment are significant, and the expectations will differ based on the nature of the property and the activities conducted there. By understanding these responsibilities and adapting their security measures accordingly, property owners can mitigate the risk of harm to those who utilize their spaces and protect themselves from potential legal liabilities.

Consult with a Negligent Security Lawyer

Early consultation with an attorney who specializes in negligent security cases is essential. An experienced negligent security lawyer can provide legal advice tailored to your situation, help preserve your rights, and begin the process of building a strong case. They will also manage communication with property owners, their attorneys, and insurance companies on your behalf.

Tyler Eaton - Utah Car Accident Lawyer
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Common Scenarios Involving Negligent Security

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Negligent security incidents occur in a variety of environments, and understanding the range of possible scenarios can help property owners, occupants, and victims to recognize the potential risks and legal implications involved. These real-life examples and hypothetical scenarios showcase how negligent security can manifest in different contexts.

Assault in a Parking Garage

Consider the case of a woman assaulted in the poorly lit parking garage of a large shopping center. Despite previous reports of criminal activity in the area, the property management failed to improve lighting or increase security patrols. The assailant took advantage of the dim lighting and the absence of surveillance cameras to carry out the attack. Here, the shopping center could be held liable for negligent security as they did not take reasonable steps to mitigate the foreseeable risk of crime in the parking garage.

Robbery in a Hotel Corridor

A notable case of negligent security occurred in a hotel chain where a series of break-ins and robberies had taken place over several months. Guests reported thefts from their rooms and confrontations with suspicious individuals in the hallways. Despite these reports, the hotel did not review or update its security protocols. In this case, the lack of action by the hotel management to address recurring security issues could form the basis for a claim of negligent security.

Theft in an Apartment Complex

In an apartment complex, residents repeatedly reported problems with the main entry gate, which often remained broken for extended periods. This allowed non-residents to enter the property without restriction, leading to multiple incidents of theft and vandalism. The apartment management’s failure to promptly repair the entry gate could be seen as a failure to maintain adequate security measures, opening the door to potential negligent security claims.

Attack in a College Campus

Campus security is a critical concern for educational institutions. A hypothetical scenario involves a student being attacked on a college campus in an area known for having insufficient lighting and no emergency call boxes. Although the college had promised to address these security shortcomings, no improvements had been made by the time of the attack. The institution's disregard for implementing the promised security enhancements could potentially be grounds for a negligent security lawsuit.

Injury at a Nightclub

A nightclub, known for its overcrowded dance floor and inadequate number of security personnel, witnessed a severe incident when a patron was injured during a brawl that broke out among intoxicated individuals. The nightclub had a history of such occurrences but failed to hire additional security staff or implement crowd control measures. The owner's neglect in providing a safe environment could be construed as negligent security.

Shooting in a Shopping Mall

In a tragic incident, a shooting occurred in a shopping mall where there had been previous threats of violence and security had been a longstanding concern. Despite the known risks, the mall did not have an adequate number of security guards on duty nor did it have a system in place to quickly respond to such emergencies. This failure to provide the necessary security in light of the known threats could lead to a negligent security lawsuit against the mall's owners.

Data Breach in an Office Building

Negligent security is not limited to physical threats; it also encompasses digital risks. A data breach in an office building, where sensitive client data was stolen due to outdated cybersecurity measures, serves as an example. The company managing the office space failed to update its security software and did not train staff on data protection protocols, leading to the breach. This negligence in securing digital assets can also be a form of negligent security.

These scenarios illustrate a common thread: property owners and managers have a duty to be vigilant and responsive to known security concerns. Failing to take appropriate measures to prevent foreseeable harm can have serious legal repercussions and result in claims of negligent security. Each environment, from parking garages to office buildings, poses unique security challenges that must be met with adequate planning and implementation of safety protocols.

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My name is Tyler Eaton

Tyler is the founder of Eaton Injury Law. He has dedicated his career to advocating for Utah citizens and tourists as a Utah Negligent Security Lawyer. Tyler has resided in Utah for over two decades and passed the Utah bar exam at 23, among some of the youngest in the state's history. The Eatons have served the state of Utah through leadership positions and the arts for over 50 years.

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