Inadequate Security Accidents in Massachusetts
No one expects to be the victim of a crime when visiting a public place, going to work, or renting a home or apartment; however, many criminals may take advantage of the fact there may be little to no security monitoring these places. Inadequate security can foster an environment for criminal acts, which can leave an unsuspecting person injured, perhaps fatally.
In many circumstances business and property owners owe it to the people who live on or visit their premises to provide reasonable protection against harm from others. One way to do so is to provide adequate security for the premises in the form of a security guard or alarm system. In addition, preventative maintenance with respect to properly locking windows and doors is another important factor. An injury from a criminal act can happen virtually anywhere, but certain places seem to be hotbeds for activity including:
- shopping malls;
- parking garages and parking lots;
- stairways and alleyways;
- apartment complexes;
- nightclubs and bars;
- convenience stores and gas stations; and
- theme parks.
The property owners of these types of facilities should ensure reasonable and adequate security for patrons and tenants. The injury and harm which results from inadequate security can be devastating and change a person’s life forever. There are many crimes and accidents that can occur in a situation where a property or business owner fails to live up their legal obligations. These can include:
- robberies and assaults;
- sexual assaults;
- fights/physical altercations; and
- other accidents
These situations can not only lead to physical injuries, such as broken bones and traumatic brain injury, but also severe emotional consequences such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In extreme cases, lack of adequate security can result in death.
If you were an unfortunate victim of a criminal act, Worcester personal injury lawyer Peter Ventura can help you bring a claim against a negligent property or business owner. In order to have a viable case you will have to prove that the property or business owner failed to take reasonable and proper safety and security precautions owed to you. Proper security precautionary measures may include:
- security guards or police monitoring;
- surveillance cameras;
- locks that are in good working order;
- additional and proper lighting;
- electronic alarm systems; and
- limited access to parking lots.
What Is The Difference Between Premises Liability and Negligent Security?
As discussed in the Premises Liability FAQ, “premises liability” is the responsibility of a landowner or landlord (hereafter, “landlord”) to protect invited guests from any unsafe physical conditions on the premises [431 Mass. 729 (2000), DOMINIC LUONI v. THOMAS BERUBE & another (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Essex]. If an invited guest is injured, then the landlord must pay for those injuries. Negligent security liability is similar except that the harm that falls upon invited guests is generally instigated by a bad actor like a criminal or terrorist. Landlords are expected to protect tenants and their guests from such things if they have any reason to know that it might happen.
Who is an Invited Guest?
The actual legal term is “invitee.” If you are at a neighbor’s home for a social visit, then you are an invitee because you were quite literally invited. If you go to a grocery store to buy food, you are an invitee because that is the purpose of the store. However, if you go to a bank to rob it, you are not an invitee. If you are injured on the premises during your robbery, you are on your own.
What are Unsafe Conditions?
Most people are familiar with the typical unsafe conditions: slippery floors, icy bridges, loose electrical wires, etc. However, there are some unusual situations that constitute unsafe conditions.
For example, a young person once died when the car he was riding in crashed into a tree. The driver, another teenager, was drunk. The intoxicated driver had consumed alcohol first in a private home, then at a billiards hall. However, the teenager had acquired this alcohol on his own and brought it with him to these places. Nonetheless, the deceased boy’s parents went to court arguing that the homeowners and billiards hall owners were liable for the death on the grounds that any place where underage drinking is allowed constitutes unsafe conditions. The court disagreed. Under Massachusetts law, you are only liable for a drunk driver’s behavior if you served or furnished the alcoholic drinks yourself and you had reason to know the person whom you served was underage or already intoxicated. Drunkenness or alcoholic consumption are not unsafe conditions like accumulated snow or a poorly lit parking lot.
If a landlord allows criminal behavior on their premises and that criminal behavior harms you as a tenant or guest, the landlord may be liable for “negligent security.” The law puts a duty on the landlord to implement security measures to protect invitees when the landlord has reason to believe such measures may be necessary. Put simply, the landlord must do what he or she can to avert foreseeable harms. This is most often violated when a crime has been committed on the premises and a failure to act results in a second similar crime.
If it is found that security measures such as these or other precautions were not installed or used, causing you to be injured, you may have a legal claim to pursue. Worcester personal injury attorney Peter Ventura can help you pursue a legal claim for compensation for the harm you have endured and hold the negligent property or business owner accountable for their inadequate security. Call Worcester personal injury attorney Peter Ventura today to evaluate your case at 508-755-7535.