Wrongful Death Claims and Negligent Security

In a typical wrongful death case, a claimant pursues compensation from a defendant whose negligent or malicious actions directly lead to the passing of one of the claimant's loved ones. For example, a claimant might pursue a case against a drunk person who assaulted a victim during a bar fight.

A less common route, however, is to go after a party that was negligent in a way that set the stage for the deadly events. One argument for this sort of case is what an attorney would call negligent security. In the previous example, the likely target might be the bar where the fight happened. This is a somewhat unusual logic for a wrongful death claim. It's prudent to learn what it entails before you decide to file a claim or suit on this basis.

What Is Negligent Security?

Negligent security is a form of premises liability. This is the duty of a property owner to keep a location safe for others, especially if they open the place up to the public. If a catwalk collapse at an office building killed someone, the victim's family might pursue a wrongful death claim against the property's owner based on premises liability.

However, negligent security takes the concept of premises liability a step further. It imposes a duty to provide a secure place for people to be. This means they should be safe from predictably physical threats posed by other people who come onto the property. A nightclub that had bouncers on the scene of an incident, for example, might claim it was negligent in terms of security because it had taken steps to address problems with unruly patrons.

Proving It

When a lawyer wants to pursue a wrongful death case centered on negligent security, they have to prove that the property knew there were problems at the location. Suppose there had been several muggings in the stairway of an apartment building over the last couple of months. However, the property owner did nothing to address the situation. They didn't add secure doors to buzz people in, set up a key pass system, or install cameras.

Now, suppose a subsequent mugging left a visitor or resident of the building dead. The building's owner might be liable for the death under the theory of negligent security. A lawyer would want to see evidence that showed the owner knew there was a problem. For example, they might demand the discovery of complaint forms from residents who had asked for more security. The lawyer would also use news articles, cellphone footage of incidents, and testimony from locals as proof.

To learn more, contact local wrongful death lawyers.