Introduction to Nevada claims for injury or death from negligent security
When people visit stores and other businesses open to the public, those who own or control the property on which business is being conducted have a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises to prevent injury to visiting patrons. When the property owner or merchant fails to take reasonable steps to protect customers and injury results, the party breaching their duty of care is liable under a legal theory called premises liability.
While many premises liability claims involve issues related to the poor condition of the property – such as tripping on an uneven floor, falling on untreated ice, slipping on spilled liquid and so forth – one subset of premises liability cases concern negligent security.
Part of the duty to protect patrons encompasses keeping them reasonably safe from being the victims of crime in common areas open to the public. For example, a restaurant or bar open late into the night in an area with frequent crime that fails to provide adequate lighting or security guards in their parking lot for patrons leaving after dark may be liable for negligent security if a patron is the victim of a violent or property crime under those negligent circumstances.
Elements of a negligent security claim
To prove in a negligent security lawsuit that a property owner or business in control of premises is liable, the victim must prove all these elements:
- The owner or business owed a duty of care to the victim.
- The defendant owner or business breached its duty of care to provide reasonable security.
- That breach caused the patron’s injury (or death).
- The injured party incurred damages like medical costs, pain and suffering, or lost wages.
In determining whether the property owner or business has a duty to patrons to provide reasonable security, Nevada courts look at the totality of the circumstances and whether they create a legal duty to provide reasonable security to patrons, customers and others legally on the premises. One circumstance to consider is whether there have been previous instances of crime in the neighborhood, but the court may look at anything relevant to the question of whether the risk of harm is foreseeable.
Anyone who feels that negligent security caused them injury should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to understand their legal options and to allow legal counsel to kick off an investigation of the incident while the evidence and witness memory is still fresh.
The personal injury lawyers at Bradley, Drendel & Jeanney in Reno represent victims of negligent security throughout Nevada and Northeastern California.