New Jersey Negligent Security Lawyers
Proudly serving all of New Jersey
Negligent security is a unique situation in which a retail or rental property owner may be held accountable for criminal actions committed on the premises. As patrons of New Jersey businesses, we want to assume that business owners have considered safety and have taken adequate measures to ensure our protection. Unfortunately, some landlords routinely ignore safety concerns, perhaps because it is often expensive to address, or they do not realize that they may be held liable for premises injuries.
If a court determines that the property owner should have anticipated the criminal activity, he or she may be legally responsible for the effects of the crime. For instance, if similar incidents had happened in the past, or there were not sufficient locks on residents' doors, the property owner might be partially liable.
After an assault or theft that has left you with injuries, you may be angry, scared, and in shock, especially if the incident occurred because of a negligent property owner. In situations like these, you may be eligible for compensation. The New Jersey negligent security attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. have made it their duty to provide legal guidance to victims and can utilize all their skills and knowledge to actively pursue damages from at-fault property owners. Call us at (609) 240-0040 to schedule a free consultation and discuss if you have a case.
In most types of negligent security cases, a victim is pursuing damages for injuries they have suffered during a mugging, robbery, or other theft crimes. These injuries are often indicative of assault crimes. Based on NJ Rev Stat § 2C:12-1 (2013), assault can include attempts to intimidate someone through force or threats of violence, attempts to commit violence, and negligently causing violence to someone.
Generally, the public categorizes assault as:
Physical Assault - Physical attack and infliction of pain or bodily injury upon another person.
Sexual Assault - Making an individual engage in unwanted sexual acts, by means of threats or force.
Verbal Assault - Threats of violence against another person.
Some of the people who are most at risk for assaults include women, children, and the elderly. In some cases, the victim may be assaulted by a person they know, such as a spouse, family member, friend, or acquaintance. While some assaults are made by strangers for seemingly unknown motives, other assaults are hate crimes against certain populations.
Not having adequate security can lead to assault, as well as many different types of crimes. The ones most often associated with premises liability are robbery, sexual assault, battery, and in extreme cases, murder. Though it can happen anywhere, some of the more common places victims are targeted include nightclubs, ATMs, bars, hotels, shopping centers, banks, gas stations, and apartment buildings.
If a perpetrator assaults a hotel guest in a room because the building was not secure or due to an insufficient door locking mechanism, the proprietor or building owner may be responsible for damages. A bank that fails to provide sufficient lighting at an ATM may be held responsible for a robbery at that location. While the law does not generally hold private citizens or businesses liable for crimes committed by others, if it is clear that they chose to ignore a problem, then they can be liable for negligent security.
If you have suffered an assault, mugging, rape, or other crime-related injuries, several avenues exist for you to pursue compensation in the state of New Jersey.
First, you may apply to the New Jersey Victim’s Compensation Fund, which provides up to $25,000 in compensation for victims of crimes. To be eligible, you must apply within three years of the crime, have been a victim of a crime, must provide documentation of related out-of-pocket medical bills or lost wages, and must comply with all police proceedings, including providing a witness statement. The individual who hurt you does not need to be caught or prosecuted for you to receive funds. This fund also includes up to $20,000 in mental health counseling and up to $600 per week for wages lost.
In addition to the victim’s compensation fund, you may also receive punitive damages from the criminal. These damages differ from a personal injury lawsuit because they are designed to punish the criminal rather than compensate the victim. To be awarded punitive damages, the court must find that the defendant acted with malice or reckless regard for your safety in the process of committing a crime. While punitive damages can reach a maximum of $350,000 in New Jersey, the courts may reverse a decision if they feel the damages are too much of a financial burden for a defendant to bear. Thus, it is difficult to be awarded punitive damages in a negligent security case.
Lastly, if you are the victim of assault or another crime and believe security concerns were not sufficiently addressed at the crime location, you may be able to recover damages from the building or business owner in the form of a negligent security claim. Only a highly qualified lawyer can determine whether you have a legitimate premises liability claim and pursue it aggressively to gain the highest possible compensation.
There is no standard rule of thumb for these types of claims, and the court will review each situation to deem whether or not a property lacked sufficient security. But an attorney will understand what evidence the court is looking for to prove the crime was foreseeable and could have been prevented. This will make it much easier for you to gather the right information for your claim. Your lawyer will also know which security experts to speak with to further analyze the circumstances of the case and present their findings in court.
To pursue compensation for negligent security, the injured party must be able to prove that a property owner failed to deliver proper warnings about potential danger or neglected to exercise reasonable care to prevent the same criminal activity that has taken place in the past. Establishing liability will require being able to show that the plaintiff was legally on the property, that there was a breach in providing a duty of care, and that plaintiff’s injuries were the result of an act that was foreseeable.
Evidence your attorney can utilize in a negligent security claim include:
- Crime data about the neighborhood where the crime took place
- Previous reports of criminal activity on the premises
- A lack of security cameras
- Broken gates or window locks
- Unfulfilled maintenance requests for broken gates or locks
- Poor lighting in parking lots or stairwells
- Lack of security personal or irregular patrols
The key element to a negligent security case is the ability to show that the property owner knew about criminal activity or knew about criminal activity and failed to take necessary steps to prevent patrons or guests from being injured. To collect the necessary evidence and advocate for full compensation, you will need the aid of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.
At Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., we are long time New Jersey residents who are committed to making this state a safer place for everyone. Part of that commitment is holding negligent property owners responsible for their failure to address problems. Call our New Jersey premises liability attorneys today at (609) 240-0040 to determine whether you may be eligible for financial compensation for your injuries under the state's negligent security laws.
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