Injured in a robbery? You may be able to secure financial compensation. Property owners who fail to provide lawful guests and residents with adequate security can be held accountable in a civil lawsuit.
- Armed robbery
- Personal injuries and emotional trauma
- Property theft or damage
Learn more about your legal options in a free consultation. Call our experienced negligent security attorneys today to get started.
"Down To Earth & Dedicated" Brian is a hardworking lawyer with expertise to spare.
Were you or a loved one injured in a robbery? You may be eligible to file a violent crime lawsuit and pursue financial compensation outside the criminal justice system. If the robbery took place on someone else's property, you may be able to file suit against the property's owner for failing to protect you from crime.
Individuals and businesses who own property have a duty to their guests and residents to implement and maintain adequate security measures. If a security failure or breakdown led to the robbery in which you or your loved one was injured, you may be entitled to file suit over negligent security. A negligent security lawsuit can help some survivors and families start their journey of recovery with confidence.
The Difference Between Robbery & Burglary
Robbery, burglary and theft are three separate crimes based on the fundamental concept of stealing, taking someone else's property without authorization.
- Theft - the unauthorized taking of personal property with the intent of permanently depriving that person of their property
- Robbery - the use of physical force, threat or intimidation to accomplish or in an attempt to accomplish a theft
- Burglary - the unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime, including but not limited to robbery or theft
Robbery and burglary are considered intentional torts, because both offenses involve at least some intentional conduct on the part of the perpetrator. We can distinguish intentional torts from negligent ones, which arise, in contrast, from a careless disregard for the safety of others. A "tort," in the language of American law, is a wrongful act that creates the basis for civil liability.
You have every right to sue a robber or burglar for threatening you with harm, causing you actual harm (either physical, emotional or both) or for stealing your personal property. Suing the actual perpetrator, however, might not always be the best option.
One obvious problem with this legal remedy is that many robbery victims have no idea who stole from them or who mugged them in the street. The majority of violent crimes go unsolved by law enforcement officials.
Robberies are no exception, according to the Pew Research Center, with only 30% of the robberies reported in 2015 closed by law enforcement officials. So that's the first problem -after a robbery, there usually isn't an obvious criminal perpetrator to pursue in court.
The second problem emerges in those comparatively-rare cases where the offender can be identified. Most people who commit robberies don't have the personal assets or income sufficient to satisfy a court judgment. So even if you sued someone successfully, you'd be unlikely to get anything for your efforts.
And that's why third-party liability is so powerful. Instead of pursuing compensation from the actual criminal offender, you may be able to file suit against someone else who, either intentionally or through negligence, allowed the crime to occur. In most cases, we're talking about a property owner who failed to provide you with adequate security.
Premises Liability For Violent Crimes & Property Theft
Every property owner in the United States owes their guests, visitors and, in the case of residential properties, residents, a special duty of care. In reality, there are multiple legal duties imposed upon property owners, which vary depending on the nature of the property.
For our purposes, though, we'll focus on a single duty: the obligation to provide lawful guests and residents with a reasonable level of security from criminal activity, including robberies.
State Laws On Negligent Security
You'll find this duty of "premises liability" enumerated in any number of state-established laws. The specific wording in these laws varies from state to state, but each one makes guests and residents entitled to an adequately-safe premises.
As a guest or resident on a property, you have a legal right to be adequately protected by people who want to commit crimes. Apartment owners, in particular, have a duty to ensure that their renters' units are adequately protected against foreseeable criminal risks.
Renter vs. Owner Duties
Where does an apartment building owner's responsibility end? Inside the apartment. Security problems that exist inside an apartment are almost always considered the residents' responsibility. Common areas are a different story. In principle, a landlord's legal responsibility extends to any area under their control. Most security measures fall into that category.
The flip-side of any responsibility is liability; it's what happens when your right is violated. What happens, then, when a property owner who owes you a duty of security violates that duty, failing to provide you with a reasonable degree of security? You can sue them for financial damages, including money to compensate you for medical expenses, emotional trauma, stolen or damaged personal property and time away from work.
What Is Adequate Security?
What counts as adequate protection will change from case to case. Residential complexes and condos in high-crime neighborhoods usually have even more-stringent security requirements.
That's because property owners can only be held liable in a negligent security claim for allowing "foreseeable" crimes, ones they should have seen coming. Thus, an apartment complex with a history of armed robberies has a special duty to prevent armed robberies in the future.
Possible Security Requirements
Needless to say, window and door locks should be regularly checked and replaced when broken. A visible security camera system can be extremely effective at deterring potential criminals. Apartment buildings with lobbies should consider investing in a round-the-clock security guard to monitor the entrance and common areas or, at the least, an on-site manager.
In securing an apartment complex, owners are best-served by reducing points of easy access using gates or fencing. And many apartment complexes hire a private security company to patrol the property at routine intervals, especially during the night.
Lighting should be bright, both as a deterrent and to allow residents and security guards to spot trouble before things get out of hand. Ideally, common areas will be at least minimally-lit throughout the night. Just as important, all of these security suggestions should be applied in the apartment building or complex's parking lot, too.
Maintenance & Negligent Repairs
Once the appropriate security measures are in place, they must be maintained in a good working condition.
Landlords can be held accountable for failing to implement property security protocols, but they can also be found liable for allowing a broken lock or torn bit of fence to remain in disrepair. In fact, some property owners can even be held responsible for attempting to fix a security problem, but doing so in an unreasonably negligent manner.
Learn More About Your Legal Rights
Think you have a case? We believe that negligent property owners should be held accountable for failing their guests and residents. Contact our experienced attorneys for a free consultation today. You can learn more about your legal options at no cost and no obligation.