Negligent Security in Austin, Texas
At work, at the mall, or in a restaurant, people have an expectation that they won’t be the victims of a violent crime. Employers and business owners have a legal duty to use “reasonable care” to provide a safe environment. Sometimes, however, that duty is ignored, and people suffer serious or fatal injuries as a result.
Personal injury victims may be entitled to compensation, if a lawyer can prove that their injuries were the result of negligent security. If you’ve suffered an injury and believe negligent security is to blame, call the Evans/Reilley Law Firm to request a free, no-obligation consultation: 1-855-414-1012.
Claims of negligent security often arise from incidents in or outside of nightclubs. A bar owner can’t be held liable for a random act of violence that injures a patron. But a court may find the owner liable if the risk of harm was foreseeable.
One notable case in Texas involved a man who suffered a skull fracture and brain damage, when he tried to remove his injured friend from a bar brawl at Del Lago Golf Resort, near Lake Conroe. The man sued Del Lago, claiming the bar did nothing to intervene between a wedding party and a group of fraternity brothers that were obviously headed for an altercation. The case ultimately ended with the Supreme Court of Texas affirming the findings of the appeals court, which awarded $1.48 million in damages to the injured man.
In the discussion of its decision, the Supreme Court wrote that a bar owner doesn’t have a duty to protect patrons from each other, even if patrons are inebriated or exchange words that lead to a fight. However, the foreseeability of injury was undeniable in the Del Lago case. The court wrote:
Aside from intervening in potential altercations, businesses may also have a duty to provide enhanced security when they are located in a high-crime area. In a case in California, a jury awarded $372,500 to a man who was shot in a nightclub parking lot. The evidence showed the club was located in an area known for numerous violent crimes, and when the shooting occurred, the one light in the parking lot wasn’t working, the bouncers weren’t patrolling as often as required, and no surveillance cameras were in place.
According to an opinion issued by the Court of Appeals of Texas, employers are not “insurers of their employees’ safety at work.” Employers must provide a reasonably safe place to work, but in the absence of actual foreseeable risk of harm, they are not liable for injuries.
The appeals court opinion comes from a case in which a woman was violently assaulted at her place of employment by a non-employee. She argued that her employer had installed a security system with panic buttons but not trained staff how to use the system. The court found there was no evidence the business owner installed the security system specifically to thwart crime, as there was no evidence of serious and violent crime in the area, and that the attack on the employee was not foreseeable.
To prove a claim of negligent security against an employer, an injured employee must be able to show the employer knew about a risk but did nothing to prevent it. For example, if one employee threatens another employee with physical harm, and that incident is reported to management or owners, those parties could be liable if they don’t take action and the employee follows through on threats of violence.
Texas law requires landlords to install window latches, deadbolt locks, sliding door locks, and other basic security measures in tenant dwellings. Landlords are also obligated to replace any of those features that are damaged, but they are generally not required to provide enhanced security.
A tenant may be able to pursue a negligent security claim if a basic security feature is broken, the landlord is aware of the defect and does not correct it and the tenant becomes the victim of a crime because of the defect. Dangerous or criminal behavior by other tenants of which the landlord is aware but does nothing to remedy could also result in a negligent security claim, if the offending tenant injures another tenant.
Experience and Results
To prove a claim of negligent security, an attorney must know how to find and introduce evidence that shows a defendant knew of a foreseeable risk of serious harm but did nothing to stop it. The Evans/Reilley Law Firm has handled many such cases, securing favorable outcomes for our clients.
If you’ve suffered an injury and believe you may have a negligent security case, fill out our online form or call us to request your free consultation: 1-855-414-1012.