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Proving Foreseeability in a Negligent Security Lawsuit

Two white security cameras on a pole against a bright blue sky
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Madeleine Jones
March 30, 2022

When you first take a look at the word “foreseeability” it can look like a straightforward term. What could be so confusing about being able to foresee something? However, this is a word that leads to a debate in the legal community, especially in the context of premises liability claims. The definition of the word foreseeability has gotten very important in cases that involve negligent security, and proving foreseeability is the most important step for the plaintiff looking for a settlement. 

If you are thinking about filing a negligent security lawsuit, it makes sense to first understand the role foreseeability plays in a negligent security lawsuit. Of course, when you have a premises liability attorney by your side, understanding these legal terms and processes becomes easier.

Our team of professionals can give you plenty of guidance as you navigate through your negligent security lawsuit. We are knowledgeable in the most important aspects of a personal injury claim, and you can rely on us to do the heavy lifting so you can just focus on recovering from the injuries you have sustained. 

The Meaning of Foreseeability

According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, the definition is “ the ability to anticipate within reason the potential consequences of an action, such as the injury or damage that may occur if one breaches a contract is negligent.”

What does this mean, though? If you can foresee danger, then someone should be aware of it. If they are, then they should take the steps to prevent it from happening or to avoid the danger. And if they take the steps to address the danger, then they are accountable if they fail to do so. Finally, they should be held liable for causing injuries to innocent people that resulted from their failure to prevent the dangerous situation from happening.

Why is Foreseeability Important in Premises Liability Cases?

Foreseeability is very important in personal injury cases because it is the starting point for establishing the at-fault party’s negligence. Most courts agree that if the defendant can’t foresee the danger, they should not be held liable for any injuries that result from it. 

It is pretty simple: if you can’t predict a dangerous situation, then you can’t be expected to prepare for it. There are a number of accidents that are a hundred percent unforeseeable. These include earthquakes, wildfires, floods, etc.

Negligent Security Lawsuits and Proving Foreseeability

If a property owner has installed an inadequate security system and someone gets hurt by a criminal act on their property, they are not held liable automatically. This is because of the concept of foreseeability. In order for the property owner to be liable, the criminal act must have been foreseeable. 

For example, the property owner might know that some assaults take place in their parking lot. As a result, they may have hired a security guard to patrol the lot. However, if a terrorist decides to bomb the inside of the establishment, they may not be held liable because this kind of event is completely unforeseeable.

A property owner may only have the ability to foresee a criminal act based on trends and patterns in the past. If something unexpected happens, they can’t be expected to prepare for it. 

The contrast between an assault and a terrorist attack is considerable, however, property owners can also avoid liability for other subtle differences between criminal acts. For example, a property owner might say that they couldn’t reasonably foresee someone being sexually assaulted in the bathroom, since it has never happened before.

Foreseeable Harm Examples

A property owner is expected to make adjustments to their security plan whenever there is a:

  • Similar Crime: the most obvious and first example is a pattern of similar crimes on their property. For example, a public transit security system logged muggings at the same train station.
  • The Neighborhood: the neighborhood around the property plays an important role in foreseeability. High-crime areas have to be taken into account and the owner has to take measures to protect against them.
  • The Type of Establishment: some establishment owners have businesses that are more likely to attract criminals. Disputes and fights are also known to break out at certain types of establishments. These include nightclubs, concert venues, bars, etc. People who own these should take reasonable precautions to prevent these crimes from happening.

The Character or Place of a Business

One of the most debated concepts in negligent security cases is the character and place of a business. The court struggles to define how exactly that can create opportunities for criminal behavior. In some cases, the court has argued that the constant flow of liquor and cash can lead to a good environment for criminal conduct. 

In this day and age, social science and criminology make tracking crimes a more advanced process. Now, we can pin down, properties, areas, and establishments that are magnets for crime. The most obvious examples are casinos, bars, and nightclubs. But there are many establishments that qualify but are not associated with high levels of crime. For example dollar stores, fast-food restaurants, vacant homes, bus stops, etc.

Finding a Las Vegas Negligent Security Attorney to Prove Foreseeability

If you were injured by negligent or inadequate security in Las Vegas, reach out to Cogburn Law. We have a wealth of experience and knowledge with various personal injury lawsuits. We are well-positioned and will help you get the settlement you deserve. We know how traumatizing and shocking these criminal acts can be, and we will fight for your rights in Nevada. Reach out to us today at (702) 748-7777 for a free initial consultation.

I was hesitant about getting a lawyer for many reasons, however the entire staff at Cogburn Law reassured me that everything would be okay. They were always very attentive and provided detailed answers to any questions I had. I would like to thank the entire staff for all of your hard work, making sure that my daughters and I were compensated for the accident, and making sure we received all the necessary treatment. You were awesome. If you need an attorney that won’t look at you as just another case number, that’ll return your calls/emails I definitely recommend this team.

Jessica F.