The normal trajectory for a wrongful death case involves filing a claim against a party that directly caused the death through either negligence or specific actions. A somewhat more complicated aspect of wrongful death law involves what's known as negligent security. When a party fails to secure a location that's known for dangerous activities, such as a crime-ridden building, there's an argument that they may be liable for any resulting injuries or deaths. Let's explore what negligent security means and how a wrongful death attorney might apply it to a case.
What Is Negligent Security?
Suppose a drunken patron at a bar punches someone. Worse, the punch is to the victim's head and so hard that it causes bleeding, ultimately killing the victim.
At first blush, it would seem the drunken attacker is the most liable party. However, does that remain the case if the bar has a history of violent attacks and never did anything to beef up security? After all, most patrons would expect a bouncer to try to identify unruly patrons and get them off the premises.
A Form of Premises Liability
You'll note that the idea of the business premises is essential to negligent security. That's because negligence in handling security is legally seen as an extension of premises liability.
A business has a duty to make sure that basic items on the premises don't pose hazards. For example, the owner of an apartment complex needs to make sure the handrails in the stairways won't loosen and cause someone to fall.
The same argument extends to events that happen because the premises aren't secure. If there have been several assaults in the hallways of an apartment building, for example, the property owner should implement basic security measures to protect residents and visitors. These might include adding surveillance cameras, posting warnings about activities, and installing a security door system to only pass authorized individuals into the building.
Proving Liability Based on Negligent Security
For a wrongful death lawyer, this type of case is usually anchored by documentation showing that the property owner was aware of previous incidents. In the example of an assault at a bar, an attorney might look at police and news reports of incidents at the location over the last year. They might also ask patrons about how many incidents have recently occurred and what steps the bar took to mitigate the problem. These details would be included with a demand package to back up the assertion the victim died because of these failures.
For more information about working with a wrongful death lawyer, contact a local law firm, like Wallace Firm.