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Negligent Security

Worried Hospital PatientCalifornia business owners are obligated to protect visitors against crimes committed on its own property. If patrons to a business are injured as a result of a business owner’s failed safety measures, that entity may be held civilly responsible for the patron’s injuries in a negligent security lawsuit.

The premises liability lawyers of Ellis Law have been representing residents of Los Angeles and surrounding areas who have been seriously injured on business property for over two decades. We understand the complex California law that applies to victims of negligent security. We know the courts across this region because we appear in them on a regular basis.  As a result, we are the team to consult if you have been injured in this manner.

Examples of negligent secruity include:

  • Nightclub assaults
  • Garage and parking lot attacks
  • ATM robberies
  • Shopping mall confrontations
  • Dorm room rapes
  • Theatre and stadium fights
  • Elevator and stairway violence

Recent negligent security incidents

In our 20 + years of practice, we at Ellis Law have witnessed first hand the impact of failed security on innocent victims. Some of these cases make headlines in Southern California; others are so common place, they barely attract attention.

Not long ago in Santa Ana, a 23-year-old woman was beaten and stomped while waiting to enter a popular nightclub. The victim was placed on life support as police arrested and charged other patrons with the crime. Whether the nightclub failed to exercise proper control and provide appropriate security protection remains under investigation.

Six months earlier, a man was killed after a brutal beating inside a nightclub near the Staples Center. Again, questions remain about the club’s responsibility, and whether proper security steps had been taken under California law.

Violent confrontations at sporting events happen with increasing frequency. An LA Lakers, Dodgers or Galaxy fan disappointed by his team’s performance can turn on the opponent’s supporters. Fighting words lead to actual fights, resulting in bloodshed. Angry parents confront Little League and other youth sports referees, complaining that unfair rulings harmed the chances of players and teams. Arguments escalate into assaults, and people get seriously hurt.

Women are common targets of  sexual assaults in garages and parking lots every year. Are the owners of these facilities taking proper precautions?

These days mass shootings occur at shopping malls, theatres, grocery stores and universities. Seemingly every day headlines in California and elsewhere scream: “Three people killed outside mall video store.” “Shooter kills dozens at midnight movie premiere.” “College student shoots classmates and teachers in multi-building rampage.” “Elected official, constituents gunned down outside supermarket.” What must business owners do to protect against these types of horrific incidents? Can they even do anything?

At Ellis Law, our dedicated team of personal injury lawyers will thoroughly investigate the incident, determine what – if any — protective measures the business owner had in place and evaluate the degree to which the business was negligent in providing security to customers. When when have built your strongest case, we will make every effort to procure the highest compensation for your ordeal whether we negotiate a settlement out of court or take it all the way to the jury.

Evolution of California negligent security law

Premises liability cases in California, including negligent security lawsuits, are subject to complicated legal principles. Expert personal injury lawyers, like those of us at Ellis Law with expertise in negligent security cases, are essential to advise a victim and help obtain compensation for his or her injuries.

The common rule for centuries held that businesses are not insurers of their visitors’ safety. The theory was that accidents can happen anywhere, and a business cannot guarantee that, for example, lightning will not strike while a customer is approaching the entrance. Hotels and railroads were exceptions to this rule. Courts reasoned that, as businesses that housed and transported people, such companies assumed a special duty to ensure customers’ security.

In the 1970s, this principle began to expand to other kinds of businesses. Landlords started to be held responsible when tenants were assaulted in apartment hallways; the theory was that, particularly in high-crime areas, landlords knew or should have known that violence was likely and therefore should have adopted protective measures such as installing heavy-duty locks and hiring security guards. Hospitals, schools and other businesses began to be found liable under similar theories.

Today, California requires the following:

  1. the business on the property where the attack occurred owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
  2. the business breached that duty,
  3. the breach caused the injuries criminally inflicted on the plaintiff

In an important 1993 negligent security case, the California Supreme Court held that the business’s duty is “determined by balancing the foreseeability of the harm against the burden of the duty to be imposed.”‘ Thus, courts in Los Angeles and elsewhere in southern California will weigh, for example, the likelihood of violence on a business’s property against the cost of hiring security guards.

Work with a team of premises liability experts

These complicated legal principles underscore the need for victims to consult experienced premises liability lawyers, especially in the area of negligent security matters. Ellis Law attorneys have the necessary background to evaluate whether a business is liable for damages to a victim of a crime that occurred on the company’s property. Our lawyers and investigators will work with you and your family to understand and quantify the losses that you have suffered. We know that money can never fully compensate a crime victim for what he or she has lost, but it can ease the financial burdens caused by the incident, making it easier for victim and family to recover emotionally.

If you have been injured, or a member of your family was killed or disabled, as a result of a crime committed on a company’s property, please contact us. Call 1-800-INJURED or in the Los Angeles area at 310-641-3335 to set up a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options.