Parking lots are notorious targets for violent crime. Often secluded and poorly surveilling, garages and lots should have adequate security to deter criminal offenders and protect customers. Negligent parking lot owners who fail to prevent criminal acts can be held accountable in court.
Did you or a loved one suffer injury due to a crime in a parking lot? Our experienced, negligent security lawyers are here to help. Contact our attorneys today for a free, confidential consultation.
Violent criminals gravitate toward parking lots and garages, where lax security often allows heinous acts to be carried out without notice. Over 400,000 Americans suffer severe personal injuries in parking lots every year due to violent crime alone. Many of these victims struggle to overcome the physical, emotional, and financial implications with little help from the criminal justice system.
But survivors of crime, along with their families, also have rights under our nation's civil justice system. Some victims and families may even be eligible to file a civil lawsuit for compensation against the owner of the property on which they were injured, including the owners of parking lots and garages.
Inadequate lighting, lack of surveillance cameras, and insufficient security personnel create an environment ripe for criminal activity. Such negligence not only leaves vehicles vulnerable to theft and vandalism but also puts pedestrians at risk of being targeted by criminals, leaving them vulnerable to stabbings, shootings, or mass shootings. To combat this issue, it is imperative for property owners and managers to prioritize the implementation of robust security measures in parking lots, including well-lit areas, security cameras, regular patrols, and clear signage, to ensure the safety and peace of mind of those who use these spaces.
Every property owner in the United States has a fundamental responsibility to provide visitors and guests with adequate security protections. Legal disputes involving this duty, which obligate all property owners to protect lawful guests with a reasonable level of security, fall under the category of premises liability law.
In what is known as a negligent security lawsuit, victims of violent crime, along with their families, are allowed to pursue property owners who failed to provide them with adequate security in court.
Most survivors of crime understand that they have specific rights when it comes to criminal cases. In fact, many of these important rights have been expanded in recent years as criminal justice reformers fight to put a higher priority on supporting victims rather than simply punishing criminals.
Today, every state operates its own trust fund specifically to compensate crime survivors and select family members. Victims have also been empowered to demand court-ordered restitution through the criminal sentencing process.
We still have a long way to go, however, and while recent legislative changes have certainly improved the situation for survivors of crime, they often fall short of offering full support. Compensation programs, for example, only provide financing to cover a narrow range of financial forms of loss. Restitution, by its very nature, is limited to cases in which a criminal offender is convicted and sentenced.
To secure full compensation for their injuries, victims of crime have only one option: file a civil lawsuit. We've heard from hundreds of crime survivors and families who aren't aware of their rights under our nation's body of civil law. Even so, these rights exist, and we believe that far more victims should exercise them.
When you or a loved one is injured by the actions of a violent criminal, you can file a civil lawsuit and pursue financial compensation outside the criminal justice system. And while it's probably easy to guess that you have a right to sue the criminal offender who hurt you, you may also be able to file suit against a negligent third party.
As we've already noted, property owners across the country have a legal obligation to implement adequate security equipment and policies. Along the same lines, property owners who fail to honor that obligation can be held accountable for their negligence.
Parking lot owners, in particular, should be vigilant against crime. More than 10% of all property crimes take place in parking lots and garages, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nearly 7.5% of all violent crimes are committed in parking lots and garages. And most of the crimes that take place at malls, stores, and offices actually happen outside, in the parking lot or garage.
It should be obvious that parking lots are frequent targets for violent criminals, including those who wish to assault, rape, kidnap or murder innocent victims. Parking lot owners have a legal duty to do what they can to prevent these crimes from occurring.
So do business owners who also exert control over the conditions of adjacent parking lots. A business' legal duties don't just end when you walk out the door; they often extend to cover incidents that occur in the business' parking lot.
Many property owners do their utmost, maintaining strong fences, updating security camera systems routinely, and even stationing trained security guards to watch over their lots at night. But other parking lot owners aren't so careful, and some have simply violated their duty to protect the people who park their cars in the lot.
At the center of most negligent security claims is a finding of foreseeability. Property owners only owe a duty to protect customers, lawful guests, and visitors from foreseeable crimes and legal violations the property owner should have seen coming.
To make this determination, most judges will review the particular parking lot's history of crime, along with additional facts at issue in the case. So, a parking lot located in a high-crime neighborhood would be expected to have more ample security measures compared to one in a low-crime area. In a high-crime neighborhood, parking lot owners have been put "on notice" of the possibility of further criminal activity, which raises their obligation to protect.
That's especially true at night when violent criminals can lurk in the shadows in wait for their victims. Parking lots, in general, should be illuminated by bright overhead lights at night to eliminate hiding places. As a result, parking lot owners who fail to maintain adequate lighting may be liable for any crime-related injuries that occur on their property.
In a similar vein, parking lots that fail to employ attendants at night are often held accountable for negligence. Another simple way for parking lot owners to deter violent criminals is by installing a surveillance camera system and maintaining it in good working order. It's even better if the security cameras are visible to both customers and potential offenders.
Yet another consideration? The basic design of the parking lot itself. Parking lots should be designed to provide customers and security personnel with a clear line of sight down and across the parking aisles.
All of these security measures might seem obvious to you, but it's amazing how many parking lot owners don't hold the same opinion. We've heard from dozens of survivors who were assaulted, raped or robbed in parking lots. In almost every case, our investigations found that the lot's owner failed to comply with even the simplest, most reasonable safety precautions.
You may be eligible for significant financial compensation. If you or a loved one were injured by a criminal in a parking lot, our experienced premises liability lawyers may be able to help. Contact our attorneys now for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options. We offer free legal consultations around the clock - all at no charge and no obligation. Just call or fill out our contact form to get started.