Inadequate Security

Georgia Attorneys Handling Inadequate Security Lawsuits

Negligent or inadequate security is often to blame for the preventable assault, rape, or homicide of an innocent crime victim. The Atlanta-based crime victim lawyers at Ragland Law Firm, LLC have the experience and expertise needed to pursue litigation against businesses whose negligence in failing to provide adequate security placed a tenant or customer at greater risk of being victimized by the criminal acts of a third party. When assault, rape, kidnapping or other violence takes place in or around a hotel, apartment, shopping mall, nightclub, MARTA station, office building, concert arena, parking lot or similar venue, any victim is justified in asking whether the crime could have been prevented by better security measures. If there is sufficient evidence that needed security was lacking, inadequate or negligently performed, the culpable parties can and should be held liable for the victim’s damages. Because of our focus on crime victim advocacy, we are well prepared to vigorously pursue personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against any commercial venture which is to blame for negligent or inadequate security in Georgia and other states.

Georgia Law and the Duty to Provide Adequate Security

Typically, in “inadequate security” lawsuits, crime victims assert that the defendant(s) – usually a property owner, business establishment, security company or common carrier (i.e. buses, trains, subways, shuttles, taxis, cruise ships) – negligently failed to provide adequate security measures or reasonable precautions to protect its patrons from the criminal or violent acts of an employee or non-employed perpetrator. In order to impose civil liability in these cases, the crime victim must first establish that the defendant(s) had a duty under the law to provide security or undertake precautions to protect the victim from the criminal acts of other persons. If there was no duty to secure the premises or protect the victim, then the defendant cannot be held liable for damages caused by a third party.

There is no uniform federal law governing what legal duties property owners or businesses have to provide security. Therefore, inadequate security litigation is governed by the varying laws in each state, and the issues of whether and under what circumstances any particular common carrier or commercial venture had a duty to protect the crime victim are controlled by the particular statutory and common law (i.e. court decisions) of the state where the relevant events took place.

What Types of Businesses Can Be Held Liable
for Negligence in Providing Inadequate Security

The duty to exercise reasonable care in protecting individuals from violent perpetrators falls upon almost all owners of commercial property and businesses that invite customers to their premises. Therefore, claims of negligent or inadequate security have been asserted in Georgia and other states against many different types of commercial entities ranging from companies that own or lease apartments, hotels, shopping malls or office buildings, to businesses that operate nightclubs, convenience stores, concert arenas or amusement parks. The duty to provide adequate security also applies to common carriers (such as buses, trains, subways, shuttles, taxis and cruise ships) which provide transportation services to the public. Finally, hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes and drug/alcohol treatment centers also have a duty to protect the elderly, disabled, infirmed or vulnerable patients in their custody or care. Likewise, pre-schools and daycare centers are charged with the responsibility of closely watching the children in their care and guarding them against abduction, molestation or other criminal acts by employees, parents or strangers. In sum, lawsuits alleging inadequate or negligent security can involve situations where a tenant, renter, guest, customer, ticket-holder, passenger, patient or employee is physically injured or psychologically traumatized due to an assault, rape, shooting, mugging, robbery, abduction, or other crime which takes place at any of the following locations:

    • Apartment complex
    • Condominium building
    • College dormitory
    • Assisted living facility
    • Gated retirement community
    • Nursing home
    • Hotel / motel
    • Vacation resort
    • Cruise ship
    • Casino
    • Bar / nightclub
    • Restaurant
    • Movie theater
    • Bowling alley
    • Convention center
    • Concert arena
    • Sports stadium / coliseum
    • Race track
    • Amusement park / zoo
    • Office building
    • Construction site
    • Parking lot / parking deck
    • Parking garage
    • Shopping center / mall
    • Liquor / package store
    • Convenience store
    • Bank / ATM location
    • Public or private school
    • College / University
    • Day Care Center
    • Hospital
    • Medical clinic
    • Mental health facility
    • Drug treatment center
    • Airport
    • Train / bus terminal
    • Subway station
    • MARTA station
Immediate Investigation and Prompt Hiring of a
Qualified Inadequate Security Lawyer Should Be Considered

If a crime victim is injured or killed because of violence at one of these locations, an immediate investigation should be conducted to determine whether adequate security measures were in place, whether locks, security cameras or other safety equipment functioned properly, and whether personnel responsible for security performed their jobs in a prudent manner. If inadequate security measures, broken locks, inoperable security devices and/or negligent security personnel led to a preventable sexual assault, abduction or homicide, then the innocent party or their family should consider retaining a qualified Georgia crime victim attorney to evaluate the merits of a potential lawsuit against any parties responsible for such lapses in security. Possible defendants may include: (1) the owner, lessor, lessee, or manager of the property where the crime victim was injured or killed; (2) any entity which owned, managed or controlled the franchise or business operated at that location; (3) any vendor or contractor who was paid to install, maintain or monitor the security equipment; (4) any organizer, promotor or sponsor of the concert, rally, convention, speech, presentation or other event taking place on the premises; and/or (5) any security company which employed the security guards, or any security subcontractor which was hired to provide, train or supervise security personnel at the premises.

Elements of an Inadequate Security Case Under Georgia Law

A crime victim cannot recover civil damages merely by showing that he or she was injured while a tenant or customer on commercial property or the premises of a business. An owner of property or operator of a business is not necessarily liable every time someone is victimized by a crime while on their premises. Instead, civil liability arises only where it can be proven that a property owner, business proprietor, event sponsor and/or security company failed to exercise reasonable care in providing needed security and that such negligence proximately caused or contributed to the injuries suffered by the crime victim. The four elements of a viable inadequate security case are as follows:

  1. The crime victim was a tenant, renter, patron, customer, ticket-holder, employee, or other guest authorized or invited to be on the premises at the time of the crime;
  1. The defendant either owed a legal or contractual duty to exercise reasonable care to make the premises safe, or the defendant undertook or assumed a duty to provide certain security measures which then obligated that defendant to provide such security in a prudent and non-negligent manner;
  1. In one or more ways, the defendant negligently failed to satisfy that defendant’s legal, contractual or assumed duty to provide security measures needed to make the premises reasonably safe and protect patron’s from the criminal or violent acts of an employee or third party perpetrator;
  1. The crime or act of violence would not have occurred, or the victim would not have sustained some or all of his injuries had the defendant provided adequate security in a prudent, non-negligent manner.
What Types of Claims or Allegations Can Be Asserted
in an Inadequate Security Lawsuit

There are many different ways in which security can be found lacking, inadequate or negligently performed. Thus, inadequate security lawsuits can arise in many different situations, and the nature of the claims asserted will vary based upon the unique set of facts, circumstances and evidence presented in each case. In addition to the specific facts surrounding the crime itself, factors which can influence the merits of each case include (i) the type of premises involved and how that property was being used at the time of the crime; (ii) the type and amount of criminal activity known to normally occur on or around the premises; (iii) the history or pattern of similar crimes at the premises; (iv) the level of security advertised or promised by the property owner or business proprietor; and, (v) the need for security under the circumstances and the amount of resources committed to meeting such security requirements relative to the size and profitability of the business.

By way of illustration, inadequate security lawsuits are often based upon or include one or more of the following claims or allegations:

  • Security measures were inadequate given the type, amount and/or pattern of known criminal activity in the area on or around the premises
  • Certain security measures should have been implemented or upgraded in response to similar prior crimes which took place on or around the premises
  • Management failed to assess or appreciate the potential for criminal acts against its patrons or to determine what security measures were needed to meet that threat level
  • Plans for new security measures or upgrades of existing security were delayed or never implemented in order to save money and boost profits
  • Security alarms, video surveillance, camera monitors, intercom systems, call boxes, metal detectors, gates, fencing, controlled access panels, door locks, window locks or other equipment were outdated, defective, inoperable, poorly maintained, or in disrepair
  • Absent, weak, insecure, faulty or broken locks, windows, doors or gates allowed a perpetrator to gain access
  • Security alarms, surveillance systems, cameras, intercoms or call boxes were not properly monitored around the time of the crime
  • A stairwell, hallway, corridor, entrance/exit, parking lot or other area was too dark because of inadequate or inoperable lighting (poor illumination)
  • Tenants or customers were not given adequate warnings about a known specific threat
  • There was a failure to timely or properly respond to the victim before, during or after commission of the crime
  • Too few security guards were on duty or on patrol at or around the time of the crime
  • Guards, security officers, bouncers, doormen, or other security personnel were absent, inattentive, intoxicated, incompetent, unqualified, unsupervised, ill-equipped, poorly trained, or slow to respond
  • Guards, security officers or loss prevention staff failed to conduct routine inspections, failed to lock or verify the locked status of a door, gate or window, and/or failed to discover detectable breaches in security during patrols
  • Potentially dangerous employees were hired because of the failure to perform adequate pre-employment screening, investigate their prior employment history, or conduct criminal background checks
  • Unqualified, incompetent or inattentive security personnel were retained despite previous poor work performance or prior use of drugs/alcohol during work hours
  • Deficient key control policies or procedures and/or mismanagement of key codes allowed an employee or criminal perpetrator to acquire or use a lost, stolen, missing, duplicated or misappropriated room key, master key, or key card to gain unauthorized entry into a tenant’s room or other area of the premises
  • Inadequate guest or visitor screening allowed persons who carried weapons or otherwise posed a danger to gain entrance to the premises
  • Employee identification was not checked or verified thereby allowing an unauthorized person to enter a restricted area or gain access to the premises
  • Violent, inebriated, drug-impaired or potentially dangerous persons were not controlled, subdued, apprehended or escorted from the premises before causing injury to an innocent patron or bystander
  • Crowd control was inadequate due to poor planning, under-staffing of security personnel and/or failure to limit the number of people occupying the premises at a given time
  • Building codes, fire codes, occupancy codes, capacity limits and/or local ordinances were disregarded or unenforced
  • Cashiers or other employees were not protected with pass-through cash windows, bullet-resistant glass, or other protective enclosures
Lawsuits Involving the Negligent, Reckless or Excessive Use of Force
by Unrestrained or Overzealous Security Officers

There are many instances where persons are killed or injured not because security personnel fail to respond, but because an aggressive or untrained guard, security officer, bouncer or loss prevention employee was overzealous or used excessive force in response to a particular situation. As with police, the law in Georgia and other states requires privately employed guards, security officers and loss prevention personnel to refrain from using any physical force if other effective means of adequately addressing the situation can be used. Any use of force must always be justified and when necessary, privately employed security personnel may only use that amount of force which is reasonable under the circumstances. Any degree of force which is greater than that which was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances is excessive and therefore, unlawful.

Companies which employ guards, security officers, off-duty police, bouncers, loss prevention staff and similar security personnel can be held liable when their employees’ use of unjustified, unreasonable or excessive force leads to the avoidable injury or death of a perpetrator, suspect, patron or innocent bystander. Excessive force liability arises in many different settings. For example, it can arise when aggressive bouncers injure a patron while brutally escorting him or her from a bar or nightclub. Civil liability can arise in situations where temperamental or poorly trained security guards injure or kill a suspect during an overly aggressive or negligently performed apprehension. Liability can also arise in cases where customers or bystanders are injured or killed because of the negligent or excessive use of force by off-duty police, private security guards or loss prevention staff members. There are many reported cases where innocent patrons and bystanders have been shot, struck by cars, assaulted by fleeing suspects, or injured in many other ways because incompetent or reckless security personnel used excessive force or were negligent while responding to a disturbance or attempting to catch a suspect. These and any other cases of death or injury due to the negligent or excessive use of force can give rise to personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against the involved security officers and against the companies which employed or poorly trained them. Such lawsuits can include various civil claims such as assault, battery, negligence, wrongful detention, false imprisonment and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress. You can contact the Atlanta-based attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC if you desire legal advice about pursuing such a case.

Lawsuits Against Overzealous Security Officers and Loss Prevention Personnel Who
Wrongfully Detain or Accuse Innocent Patrons of a Crime

Not infrequently, incompetent or aggressive security personnel mistakenly accuse innocent people of having committed a crime. This can lead to the wrongful detention and/or malicious prosecution of an innocent citizen. Most often, these cases involve overzealous loss prevention staff at a retail store who suspect a customer is shoplifting or committing credit card fraud. Many innocent patrons have suffered the humiliation and trauma of being stopped, detained, questioned or escorted by unqualified or fanatical security officers or loss prevention staff who suspected or accused them of shoplifting or committing other crimes. There are hundreds of reported cases where innocent shoppers have been escorted to closed rooms and wrongfully detained by a retail store’s security for hours, sometimes having to face harassment, intimidation and frightening interrogatories. Most disturbing, there are known cases where teenagers and females of all ages have been molested by security officers during such wrongful detentions. Sometimes, security or loss prevention personnel have innocent persons arrested by police and then press criminal charges against the accused.

Anyone victimized by the mistakes or outrageous behavior of an unstable, capricious or incompetent security guard or loss prevention employee has the legal right to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for any physical injuries, emotional distress, psychological trauma, financial loss and/or defamation of character they have suffered. In Georgia and most other states, persons who have been wrongfully detained or falsely accused of a crime they did not commit may have a potential claim for assault and battery (if there was force or physical contact by security personnel), false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, defamation, and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Georgia attorneys at Ragland Law Firm, LLC are able to pursue these types of claims against the retailers and other businesses which employed or used poorly trained, aggressive or dangerous guards, security officers, or loss prevention personnel.

Legal Representation from Atlanta Lawyers Experienced in
Inadequate Security Litigation

Crime victims are not powerless. They can fight back by seeking to hold their assailant(s) and all other culpable parties legally accountable for the physical injuries, emotional trauma and other damages they have suffered. If you or someone in your family is the victim of a sexual assault, homicide or other violence, we are available to investigate what happened, and to counsel you about whether negligent or inadequate security played a role in allowing that crime to occur. We have the resources and expertise needed to evaluate and pursue civil claims against security companies, hotel franchises, apartment landlords, mall operators, retailers, nightclub owners, concert sponsors, and other businesses that are guilty of providing inadequate or negligent security to their tenants, patrons or employees. These situations need to be investigated as soon as possible, so contact us immediately if you want legal representation from a qualified Georgia crime victim attorney.