Negligent Security


What is negligent security?

The definition of negligent security falls under premises liability law.  Premises liability law tends to cover slip and fall accidents as the most common. Slip and fall accidents are those where commercial property something’s like missing handrails or obstacles in parking lots that lead to crime or injury. Negligent security takes this one step further and includes situations where security measures should have been in place but for whatever reason, the owner did not provide sufficient security and as a direct result someone was the victim of crime. In these cases, a victim can file a claim against property owners.

Can I file negligent security lawsuits?

If you or someone you know has been injured you probably wonder if you have the right to file a negligent security lawsuit or a negligent security claim. Being injured or sustaining an attack is not grounds for filing a claim in and of itself.

There has to be negligence. It is for this reason that this type of lawsuit is referred to as negligent security.

Negligent Security

For example: If a mugging takes place in a mall parking lot and you sustained injuries that act alone is not grounds enough to file a case. If instead, there have been multiple muggings in that same parking lot brought to the attention of the owners, the security cameras do not work, and the lighting is very poor, and you were also mugged in the parking lot and sustained injuries, you could potentially get compensation after you file for damages with an attorney.

Negligent security requires that you establish fault for the accident or injuries you sustained. 

  1. You have to demonstrate that the responsible party was negligent in their security requirements, that they failed to provide whatever level of responsible security was necessary for the commercial property, the apartment structure, the medical facility, the school, the office, or any other public place.
  2. You have to establish that this negligent security specifically caused your injury and your injuries resulted in harm. You have to justify this particular harm in order to receive compensation in a negligent security case.

Duty of Care

The first step in proving that a company had negligent security is to establish what duty of care should have been employed, what type of security should have been there.

You have to show that the property owner should have done something but they failed to. There are many different negligent security cases that fall under these parameters.

  1. A college dorm room, for example, is legally obligated to keep the premises free from hazards and to protect the residence in their dorms by keeping the doors to the building’s locked and having guests sign in with security. 
  2. Similarly, an office building might be legally obligated to provide adequate security systems such as alarms and locking mechanisms on the door but if the property owner knows the alarms are malfunctioning, the doors don’t actually lock, or the security cameras are broken and they fail to replace them or fix them, this would be negligent security.
  3. Consider a nightclub, concert venue, or bar where security guards should be hired to protect patrons, and on a particularly busy event there are no security guards or there are untrained security guards who haven’t been taught to take appropriate action when an emergency breaks out. 

Any breach of these security duties would be considered negligent security.


Once you establish there was negligent security, that a breach of conduct took place, you must then show you suffer genuine injuries as a result of this. As the victim or the plaintiff, you have to demonstrate how the responsible party or the defendant failed to meet that duty of care. An attorney could help you prove that you suffered genuine injuries as a result of the owner’s failure to act or their negligent security.

Physical injuries are much easier to prove with medical data but emotional or mental harm can be completely warranted as part of your negligent security claim a little bit more difficult to prove.

The property owner such as the business, Hospital, employer, or even a city or county can be sued individually or in combination if multiple parties were responsible for the injuries you sustained.

Are negligent security claims different than lawsuits?

If you sustained injuries as a result of negligent security, whether you choose to work with an attorney or not, the process begins with a negligent security claim. 

Negligent security claims vs. negligent security lawsuit

A claim is different from a lawsuit because a claim works with the insurance provider for the property owners to try and get compensation through insurance. In these situations, you and your attorney work with the insurance agents to try and negotiate for a settlement.

If this cannot be resolved then the case is transformed into a lawsuit that gets the courts involved. At this point, a judge or jury, following a trial, can order a negotiated settlement. The majority of premises liability cases are settled before trial. This is better for the owners in terms of mitigating any financial risk. It can take anywhere between a few months and a few years for the settlements to reach an end.

How long do I have to file a negligent security claim?

The amount of time you have is based on your state. Each state has what is called a statute of limitations and this time frame usually extends a couple of years, but if you miss the deadline, you will not be able to file a claim or a lawsuit. For this reason, it is in your best interest to speak with a qualified negligent security attorney or premises liability attorney who can give you the information based on your state and help you file on time.

  • Tennessee, Louisiana, and Kentucky have a 1-year statute of limitations
  • Most states have a 2-year or 3-year statute of limitations
  • Florida, Utah, Wisconsin, and Nebraska have a 4-year statute of limitations
  • Missouri has a 5-year statute of limitations
  • North Dakota has a 6-year statute of limitations

How much compensation can I win with negligent security claims?

Negligent Security - compensation

There are a handful of factors that are taken into consideration with regard to your settlement. You can receive what are called punitive and compensatory damages. Both of these have monetary limits based on the state in which you are filing your negligent security claim.

Each case is unique and the physical injuries, financial, and emotional injuries brought about by the negligent security will be different for every case.

Punitive damages

These are damages meant to the negligence. If for particularly reprehensible, the be. The amount you can potentially win for punitive damages is based on who is at fault and if the property owner is entirely at fault for the negligent security you can win more. Compensation is limited on a state-by-state business.

Compensatory damages

These are damages you receive for the financial losses that came as a direct result of your injuries. This can include:

  • Medical care costs
  • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • The cost of future medical treatment
  • Current or future lost wages because of an inability to work caused by your injury
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Future caretaking costs
  • Disfigurement
  • etc…

The amount of compensation you receive is proportionate to the injuries you suffered and the potential harm that you could suffer in the future. The physical severity of each injury will be taken into account as well as how your injuries impact your quality of life.

Examples of negligent security

There are many examples of this type of premises liability, the result of negligent security:

  • Violence incidents at nightclubs or bars where someone sustains injuries 
  • Attacks or incidents in a mall parking lot or the parking lot of other places of business as well as on forms of public transportation, where, for example, cameras are disabled, facilities failed to employ someone to watch function and camera footage, or parking lots and parking garages are poorly lit
  • Injuries sustained because a business does not have adequate safety measures
  • Assault on people in shared residential areas like apartments, because security measures like locks on apartment doors are not functional and in spite of complaints landlords have not tried to replace them
  • Attacks on-premises like hospitals or medical facilities, even nursing homes that do not require visitors to check-in and have no security cameras to prevent someone from breaking in and assaulting a person
Article by Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson is a legal writer at Lawrina. Megan writes about different law practice areas, legal innovations, and shares her knowledge about her legal practice. As a graduate of the American University's Washington College of Law she is an expert of law in Lawrina's team and has a slight editing touch to all content that is published on the website.

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