Negligent Security Claims Against Property Owners in Colorado
There were 24,766 violent crimes in Colorado in 2019. Approximately half of these crimes occurred in places other than private residences (CAPTA, Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority). When a violent crime happens in a place that is owned and/or managed by someone else, and the owner did not provide reasonable safeguards to keep the property safe, victims may be able to bring a negligent security claim against the property owner.
Property Owners and Responsibility for Safety
Owners of properties such as businesses or residential buildings have a duty to keep their property safe for guests. That is because owners are in a much better position than patrons to know the conditions of their property and to correct anything that might present a security risk. Crime can happen anywhere, but locations that commonly present opportunities for violent criminals include shopping malls, ATMs, schools, nursing homes, apartment complexes, hotels, and parking lots.
SECURITY HAZARDS CAN INCLUDE:
- Inadequate lighting
- Broken locks
- Lack of security guards
- Lack of electronic security system
- Lack of monitoring of security system
- Negligent hiring
- Improper landscape or building design
The Anatomy of a Negligent Security Case
When a person is a victim of a violent crime, the state will bring charges against the accused perpetrator through the criminal justice system, where restitution consists of fines, jail time, and other penalties. Negligent security cases are processed through the civil court system, which addresses conflicts between people. In civil court, victims (plaintiffs) can sue the property owner and the property owner’s insurance company for monetary compensation for pain and suffering, medical care, lost wages, and more.
Civil courts offer several advantages to plaintiffs. In contrast to criminal cases, civil cases must only be proved by a “preponderance of evidence.” That means the jury must only decide whether the defendant was more likely than not to have injured the plaintiff. Colorado also allows juries to share fault in civil cases, meaning juries can assign a proportion of blame to each party. For example, if a jury determines that a plaintiff was 10% responsible for what happened, then the monetary award may be reduced by 10%. As long as a plaintiff is not determined to be 50% or more responsible for their injuries, some recovery can be obtained. Contrast this to criminal courts, where the defendant is either guilty or not guilty, and this guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
HOW TO WIN A NEGLIGENT SECURITY CASE
To win a negligent security case, an experienced negligent security lawyer must prove that the establishment was negligent, or did not behave in a way that a reasonable person would have behaved to prevent harm from befalling a guest.
The four elements of negligence an attorney must prove are:
- The defendant had a duty to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The plaintiff sustained injuries.
- The defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff to be injured.
COMMON FORMS OF NEGLIGENCE
Negligence can be caused by action or inaction, like failure to monitor a security system. Gross negligence refers to an unreasonable action that causes injury (like drunk driving). Vicarious negligence, or imputed liability, refers to the attachment of liability to a person or entity for damages caused by another (like an employer being responsible for an employee’s negligence). In some negligent security cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to the plaintiff.
THE COMPENSATION BENEFITS ARE WORTH IT
While no amount of money can erase a violent crime, compensation can provide victims with a way forward. It is common for victims of violent crime to feel haunted by an attack for years or even the rest of their lives. Compensation can provide for medical care, counseling, lost time from work, and future needs. These cases also provide an important motivation for property owners to be responsible and keep their properties safe.
Injured Due to Negligent Security?
CALL A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER TODAY
Alan C. Shafner, founder of Shafner Law, has recovered millions of dollars for victims of negligent security. He has taken these cases to trial and won, including one landmark case involving an intoxicated guest who was severely injured after being evicted from a hotel. Mr. Shafner championed this case for more than a decade, filing multiple appeals until finally achieving success via the Colorado Supreme Court. He understands that property owners have a duty of care and can rightly be held accountable when their negligence has tragic results. He has compassion for victims and knows how to fight.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to negligent security, our Denver personal injury lawyers would be honored to review your case.
For a free consultation, call Shafner Law at (303) 796-0555 or fill out the Case Form below.
Additional Negligent Security Resources