How To Hold A Maryland Property Owner Liable For Negligent Security

By Peter DePaolis

Commercial property owners are required to take reasonable steps to keep their guests and customers safe from foreseeable criminal activity. Failure to do this is known as negligent security. In Maryland, victims of negligent security can hold the property owner liable for the injuries they suffer. If you’ve been hurt because of an irresponsible property owner, count on the personal injury attorneys of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP to stand up for you.

Negligent Security at Commercial Properties

Negligent security can happen at a number of different commercial properties, such as:

  • Shopping malls
  • Apartment complexes
  • Sports and entertainment venues
  • Hospitals
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Hotels and motels
  • Parking lots and garages

Put simply, negligent security means the owner or manager of the property didn’t do enough to prevent their customers from becoming victims of crime. The individuals and companies that run these businesses are responsible for adopting reasonable safeguards to keep their guests safe. This is especially true if the business is located in a high-crime area, or has a history of criminal activity.

When the owner or manager doesn’t do this, a customer could become a victim of:

  • Mugging
  • Robbery
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Carjacking

What do you need to prove in a negligent security claim?

The victim needs to prove that the establishment where the crime took place failed to take adequate steps to prevent or minimize the likelihood that the crime would occur. Although no business can absolutely guarantee that its guests won’t become victims of crimes, a business also cannot simply disregard its obligation by doing nothing.

These are fact-specific cases because not all businesses will need to adopt the same level of security to avoid being negligent. A shopping mall in an upscale, low-crime part of town won’t be expected to have the same security as a parking garage in a high-crime area. Another dynamic is whether previous crimes have occurred at the business in question. If the owner has done nothing even after past crimes have taken place, it makes the victim’s case much stronger.

Evidence of failure to adopt reasonable security measures could include:

  • Inadequate lighting
  • Lack of security guards
  • Absence of cameras
  • Lack of warning given to guests or merchants on the property
  • No alarms or door locks
  • Failure to restrict public access to certain parts of the property
  • Failure to upgrade security after a past incident

One potentially relevant detail of your negligent security case could be whether the owner ignored known crime statistics or trends in the neighborhood surrounding the business. The owner is not necessarily required to know exactly how many robberies, muggings, and other incidents take place every year in the vicinity. But ignoring generally known information about crime in the area will support a legal case. For example, widespread news reports of rising carjackings in the area should prompt the owner to upgrade poor lighting in the business’s parking lot. If this doesn’t happen, and someone gets hurt, the victim may have a case against the owner.

After an injury caused by negligent security, the first thing to do is make a police report and get a copy of it. Next, document as much about the incident as you can. Talk to witnesses, take photos, and collect your medical records. There may be surveillance footage of the crime that can shed light on the circumstances causing it. To obtain this, you will need a skilled personal injury attorney who understands Maryland negligent security law.

At Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, we represent victims of negligent security who have suffered personal injury. We investigate what happened, do a thorough assessment of the victim’s damages, and then get to work demanding compensation. Give us a call today to talk about your case.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.