In an extreme case of a violent attack related to premises liability, a man was stabbed in the head in late September after an argument with another shopper at a New Jersey retail store. Authorities subsequently arrested a 29-year-old man who faces four criminal charges, including first-degree attempted murder and second-degree aggravated assault.
While the 43-year-old victim was treated at a hospital for his injury and released, such incidents highlight the fact that property owners, property managers, and landlords have a duty to provide a safe and secure environment for anyone who visits their properties. Retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, hotels, and apartment complexes are among the businesses and facilities that have the legal obligation to ensure safety from violent attacks. Unfortunately, too often these attacks can be attributed to negligent security.
Poor lighting and/or poor security
An assault can occur anywhere including a restaurant parking lot, the stairwell of an apartment complex, a hotel room, or a parking garage. What is necessary to help prevent these from occurring? Property owners and managers should always keep these areas well-lit, appropriately staffed by security guards or other personnel, and have other appropriate security measures in place.
The following are four factors that often play significant roles in a negligent security situation:
- Lighting: Poor or non-existent lighting provides the ideal cover for assailants looking to attack and rob you. Waiting in the shadows of a stairwell, parking lot or parking ramp, the attackers seek unsuspecting victims.
- Security cameras: The lack of cameras or devices in disrepair are problematic for property owners. Security cameras serve as a deterrent under the watchful eyes of security staff. Even with working cameras, they must be in the right places such as high-traffic areas or where they can be seen to deter assailants.
- Security staff: Property owners must have an adequate number of properly trained security staff. They cannot resort to cost-cutting measures such as retaining low numbers of security or rely on poorly trained people. Also, having experienced security who recognize signs of danger is always a benefit.
- Locks on doors and windows: Assailants welcome inadequate or non-working locks. They may break into hotel rooms and office buildings to seek victims.
Office buildings, retail stores, hotels, and parking lots should be safe and secure to the public. Negligent property owners must be held accountable when they deviate from accepted security measures.