Some of the most tragic cases we deal with as personal injury attorneys are those in which someone is assaulted outside of a restaurant, hotel, or bar, and such injury could have been prevented had the owner of the establishment employed certain security measures. These types of claims are referred to as “negligent security” claims because the theory of the case is that the owner of the business was negligent in failing to have certain measures in place to protect its patrons. Sometimes it is lack of security guards, lack of surveillance videos or adequate lighting that will support the case. In order to succeed on a claim of this type, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the injury he/she has suffered was “foreseeable.” The “foreseeability” requirement has legal significance in that the law will not hold a business establishment responsible for one’s injuries from an attack by a third party unless the business owner should have known an attack was likely to occur and failed to take any steps to prevent it.
Evidence Gathered to Establish Foreseeability
A thorough investigation from the beginning of the case is essential. The following are examples of pieces of the puzzle we as personal injury attorneys utilize in framing a negligent security case:
- Photographs of the scene
Of course, the old age, “a picture is worth a thousand words” still holds true. The closer the photograph is to the date of the incident the better. Photographs of the scene near the time of the incident are crucial as they are able to solidify key placement of where the assault occurred in reference to the exit of the premise, the lighting conditions at the time of the incident, and whether any surveillance videos were present. Litigation by its nature often takes years and very often changes to the area are made during this time period. Capturing and memorializing the scene as it was on the date of the incident is therefore vital.
- Crime Grids and Police Incident Reports
Crimes Grids and police reports for not only the premise, but the surrounding 1 mile radius will indicate whether there are previously documented reports of similar incidents to support your claim that the business owner should have known an assault was likely to occur.
- Code or Premise ViolationsWhether the owner has been cited for any code or premise violations may be obtained through a public records requested. As with crime grids and incident reports, if a business owner demonstrates a previous pattern of violating codes meant to protect patrons, foreseeability of injury may be established.
- 911 and Dispatched Tapes
If law enforcement responded to the incident that caused your injury such tapes should be preserved and requested. However, in cases where there is an open investigation tapes may not be available until after the criminal case is complete.
- Off-Duty Logs
Logs of off-duty police officers who have been summoned to the scene of the crime in the past should be requested for the previous 3 -4 years in attempts to prove the business owner had notice of the criminal activity on the premise and in the surrounding locale.
- CAP Index
The CAP index is a summary measure of crime risk expressed in numerical form for any particular geographic location. The CAP index measures the risk of crime with one representing a low crime risk area and 10 indicating that the area has a very high risk of crime. If an establishment is located in a high crime risk area according to the CAP index and yet the owner has failed to employ measures to keep its patrons safe such as failing to ensure adequate lighting in the parking lot area, the required foreseeability element may be established.
Call Dolman Law Group
If you’ve suffered from an assault or trauma based on a business owner’s failure to keep his premise safe, you may have a claim for negligent security. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group can assist you in navigating your claim and ensuring that all pertinent evidence is gathered and presented in such a manner as to maximize the success of your case. For more information call 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765