South Carolina property owners including apartment owners, hotel owners, nightclub owners and retail business owners have a duty to ensure that their properties are safe and secure. They have an obligation to ensure that lawful visitors are reasonably safe from attacks. If a property owner fails to fulfill that duty, and you or your loved one suffers an injury due to the property owner’s failure to provide adequate security, you may have the right to bring a premises liability lawsuit.
If you have been a victim of a crime as a result of negligent security, talk with a knowledgeable Columbia attorney about your legal rights and whether you are entitled to hold accountable the owner of the property where you were attacked or assaulted. For more than 50 years, Joye Law Firm has been standing up for people harmed by the negligence of others. With offices in North Charleston, Columbia, Clinton and Myrtle Beach, we make it convenient for you to get the help you need. Call us today and schedule a free consultation about your negligent security case.
To find out how we can help, call us or fill out our online contact form for a free and confidential claim evaluation.
What are Examples of Negligent Security Cases?
A negligent security claim in South Carolina arises from a property owner’s failure to take reasonable steps to protect visitors from the risk of a violent crime such as a homicide, assault, rape or robbery. Some people refer to these cases as “inadequate security” claims.
To establish the claim, an individual who brings a lawsuit must show that the property owner’s failure to provide proper security caused or contributed to his or her injury.
These cases often involve owners of commercial property such as:
- Hotels and motels
- Bars and nightclubs
- Parking lots and garages
- Shopping centers
- Office buildings
- Apartment complexes
- Service stations
In some situations, the person or company that leases or manages the property may be liable for the harm that a visitor suffers due to inadequate security. Our lawyers will investigate to determine whether police or property management have received reports of similar crimes at the same location. If our investigation finds reports of stabbings, muggings, rapes, robberies, assaults or other violent crimes, those reports can support a claim that the property owner or manager should have been aware of the criminal activity on the premises and taken reasonable steps to protect visitors. You need the help of an experienced negligent security lawyer who is familiar with these complex cases and can thoroughly investigate your case and identify all potentially liable parties.
How Do You Prove a Negligent Security Claim in Columbia?
To establish your right to compensation in a negligent security case, you must prove certain elements. These elements are similar to other types of negligence cases. You must show:
- The property owner owed a duty to you. Your attorney will examine many different types of authorities to establish the duty that the property owner owed to you. For instance, certain laws, regulations, corporate policies or community standards can establish the duty. A hotel, for example, may have a policy that requires the front doors to be locked after a certain hour or that access to room keys is restricted.
- The owner breached that duty. You must also show that the owner failed to live up to the duty owed to you. For instance, the owner of an office building may have failed to hire a security guard to patrol the premises or to install an electronic security system.
- The breach directly caused you to suffer an injury. If you can prove that the property owner had a duty and breached that duty, you still have to prove that the breach caused or contributed to your injuries.
In Columbia, an important aspect of a negligent security case is whether the violent actions of a criminal were reasonably foreseeable. For example, if several people were attacked at an apartment complex or a dimly lit parking garage over a period of time, the risk of future attacks could be deemed to be reasonably foreseeable by the apartment owners or managers.
Did the property owners take reasonable steps to secure the property such as replacing burnt out security lights, replacing broken windows and doors, installing proper locks and having security personnel when appropriate?
In cases of injury or death caused by fire, did the property owner or property manager comply with the fire code to minimize fire hazards? Even if a property had smoke detectors, the property owner may still be liable if there were unsafe conditions that prevented an occupant from escaping a fire such as defective sliding doors that didn’t open properly, or blocked emergency exits.
Additionally, South Carolina courts apply a balancing test to determine whether a property owner should be liable for failing to provide adequate security. The test weighs the potential burden to property owners against the potential risk to their visitors.
At Joye Law Firm, we will work quickly and aggressively to preserve, gather and analyze all evidence in your negligent security case. This evidence may include:
- Statements by witnesses
- Footage from security cameras and closed-circuit video
- Past criminal reports or incident reports
- The actual security equipment that the property owner used such as locks or alarms.
Additionally, we may consult with industry experts regarding the crime risks on the property and whether the property owner took reasonable safety measures in light of those risks. Unfortunately, property owners often are aware of criminal activity on their premises but choose to ignore it or fail to take adequate steps to address the problem.
In some cases, it may be helpful for your attorney to obtain an affidavit from police or from other residents of an apartment complex establishing a history of criminal activity such as gang activity at the property where you were assaulted.
If Spanish is your first language, you may feel more comfortable talking about legal issues with a lawyer who speaks Spanish. Even if you are living in the U.S. without proper immigration documents, you may have a right to file a lawsuit and seek compensation if you were harmed as a result of negligent security. Our attorneys are sensitive to concerns about immigration status and can take certain steps to prevent your immigration status from being brought up in the case.
What Compensation Can You Recover in a Negligent Security Lawsuit?
To calculate the damages in your case, our team of experienced Columbia premises liability attorneys will thoroughly examine all of the evidence, including your medical records. We may also consult with experts in fields such as life-care planning. Our goal will be to obtain full and fair compensation for you and to help you move past a traumatic experience that you have endured through no fault of your own.
Examples of the types of damages you might be entitled to recover are:
- Past and future medical bills
- Other related out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages if you cannot work due to your injuries
- Loss of future wages (if you will likely be unable to go back to work)
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Wrongful death damages (if your loved one died in an attack).
Our highly dedicated legal team will explore all available sources of compensation, including insurance policies and other assets, and we will pursue maximum compensation for you through a settlement. However, if necessary, our experienced litigators will be ready to take your case to trial. Joye Law Firm has a record of obtaining successful verdicts for clients in even the most challenging cases.
How Long Do You Have to Bring a Claim?
When someone else’s negligence injures a person in South Carolina, the statute of limitations will limit how long the person has to bring a claim. Generally, in personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the injury. If the victim dies from his or her injuries, those who are eligible to bring a wrongful death claim must do so within three years from the date of the death.
A negligent security claim may require extensive investigation. As soon as we sign a case, our attorneys start gathering evidence and aggressively preparing the case as if it will go to trial. To ensure that you don’t miss the deadline that applies in your case, you should seek help from an experienced premises liability attorney as early as possible.
Our Columbia Negligent Security Attorneys are Here for You
Since 1968, the attorneys of Joye Law Firm have tirelessly protected the rights of injury victims and their families throughout South Carolina. Our goal is to do more than help our clients get the compensation they deserve. We want to restore the quality of their lives, too. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to negligent or inadequate security on someone else’s property, contact us today and get started with a free consultation.