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Neglecting Security? Prepare to Pay the Price

Lance Guillory
June 26, 2024

Safety first is a principle many overlook until a routine event becomes a nightmare. Unfortunately, by then, it’s too late. The cost of neglecting security can be astronomical, not just financially but also in terms of reputation and legal ramifications. We’ll examine the consequences of a business failing to secure its property, emphasizing the impact of insufficient protection of the people within the establishment. We’ll also look at real-world cases of negligent security and identify some weaknesses you should watch out for that could increase your organization’s risk.

What is Negligent Security?

Negligent security falls under the umbrella of premises liability, which requires property owners to maintain a safe environment for visitors, customers, and employees. The overall goal of negligent security laws is to protect individuals from harm while they are present on a business’s property. When an owner or manager fails to establish proper measures to safeguard their premises and those on it, it is considered negligent.

Businesses that attract heavy foot traffic, such as nightclubs, shopping malls, and open-access event spaces, are at a greater risk of experiencing crime when security is ignored, which increases their liability risk. Neglecting these risks can lead to violent attacks, theft, and other harmful incidents, potentially resulting in legal action.

Negligent Security Means Liability

When a business is found guilty of negligent security, the legal ramifications can be severe. Victims of crimes have the right to seek legal recourse and they can file lawsuits against the property owner for failing to provide adequate security. In extreme cases, such as the death of a victim, their loved ones may also file wrongful death lawsuits.

In the event of an incident leading to a court case, foreseeability will be evaluated to determine if the business could have anticipated the potential or actual outcomes. If it’s proven that damages were directly caused by a security lapse, the victims may be awarded compensation which would come directly from the business.

These costs can add up quickly, especially in high-profile cases. Victims may seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and damages caused by trauma and in many cases, these settlements may reach millions of dollars. Even if the case is settled out of court, the legal costs can be substantial. Businesses may also face regulatory penalties and increased scrutiny from law enforcement agencies post incident.

Financial Consequences of Negligent Security

The financial costs associated with negligent security extend beyond legal fees and settlements. Businesses may also face increased insurance premiums, loss of revenue due to reputational damage, and the costs of implementing improved security measures after the fact. In some cases, the financial strain can be so severe that the business is forced to close.

Negligent Security Cases Today

Below are several cases of negligent security updated as of this year:

April, 2024 – Tenant Sues Apartment Complex Over Shooting Incident

A lawsuit has been filed against a student apartment complex in South Carolina by a tenant who was shot while trying to sleep. According to the lawsuit, the complex failed to operate in a safe manner which led to a culture of violence and crime. This incident occurred after a party at a separate apartment got out of hand, resulting in gunfire and a bullet hitting the tenant’s arm.

The lawsuit claims that the complex failed to enact reasonable security measures to protect tenants and warn them of possible threats, having had a history of criminal activity including aggravated assaults, robberies, shots fired incidents, sexual assault, kidnapping, and murder prior to the shooting. The lawsuit alleges that the complex’s failure to act on this history led to the tenant’s injuries.

May, 2024 – Lawsuits Filed Regarding 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting

An $800 million settlement for the Las Vegas shooting victims was approved by a judge. This settlement will be divided among more than 4,400 relatives and victims of the 2017 mass shooting, which killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others as the deadliest mass shooting in modern history. Plaintiffs cite that MGM is liable for the physical and psychological harm caused by the shooting because the shooter, Stephen Paddock, was able to stockpile an arsenal of weapons over several days in his suite at Mandalay Bay, owned by MGM. 

This is considered a premises liability case, where MGM is being held responsible for not providing a safe environment for its guests and failing to prevent the shooting. MGM Resorts International and its insurers will be paying out the $800 million to settle dozens of lawsuits related to the incident and the settlement amount was finalized on the eve of the third anniversary of the shooting.

May, 2024 – Office Building Landlord Settles $6 Million Lawsuit

A Center City landlord has settled a lawsuit with a woman who was sexually assaulted at an office building in 2022 for $6 million. The woman was attacked by a man who entered the building, unauthorized, and went to the eighth floor where she was alone. The lawsuit alleged that the building’s security protocols failed to protect her from the attack. 

The lawsuit also claimed that the landlord was negligent in providing security measures, including a security guard who failed to notice the man both entering and exiting the building, along with a lack of barriers to prevent unauthorized access to the stairs.

Investigating Before an Incident

The best first step is to consult with an expert security advisor to conduct a Physical Security Risk Assessment. This thorough investigation will uncover the root causes of past incidents and identify any security vulnerabilities in your system in order to prevent future breaches.

Some vulnerabilities that could cost you should an incident occur:

  • Broken Security Cameras: Non-functional cameras can leave critical areas unmonitored, making it easier for criminal activities to go unnoticed.
  • Blocked Emergency Exits: Blocked exits can delay an evacuation during emergencies, increasing the risk of injury or death.
  • Untrained Security Guards: Security personnel who are not adequately trained may be unable to respond effectively to threats.
  • Poor Lighting: Dimly lit areas provide cover for criminal activities.
  • Unsupervised Parking Lots: Lack of supervision in parking areas can lead to theft, vandalism, and other crimes.

It’s important to regularly review and update security protocols based on the findings of these investigations. This could involve implementing new written procedures, involving your monthly Physical Security Risk Manager, or making changes to layouts and access points to keep everyone safe. We encourage taking proactive measures to address these risks before it’s too late.

Contact us today about upgrading your security measures and ensuring peace of mind.

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