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What is the Meaning of Negligent Security in Maryland?


Negligent security is a legal doctrine under Maryland law that allows a victim to sue a property owner for criminal activities occurring on the premises. An offshoot of premises liability, negligent security extends the duties of property owners to include foreseeable criminal activities. If the property owner does not provide adequate security measures to deter criminal activity — within reason, of course — then they could be liable criminal harm or injury, even if a third party is responsible.

In a negligent security claim, the injured visitor is the plaintiff; and the property owner is the defendant. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care or provide adequate warnings. Consequently, the defendant should be responsible for the plaintiff’s harm or injury.

Elements of Negligent Security

Mirroring the approach of other personal injury claims, negligent security centers on the elements of duty, breach, causation and damages. Specifically, a successful negligent security claim will demonstrate that:

  • The plaintiff was a lawful visitor on the defendant’s property;
  • The defendant had a duty to provide adequate security measures;
  • The defendant breached their duty to provide adequate security measures;
  • The plaintiff suffered harm or injury from third-party criminal conduct that was foreseeable;
  • The defendant’s failure to provide adequate security was the cause of plaintiff’s harm or injury; and
  • The plaintiff’s harm or injury resulted in real damages.

Examples of Negligent Security

In negligent security cases, the most important factor is normally the issue of foreseeability. Stated otherwise, the defendant property owner must know — or have a reason to know — about a significant risk of harm or injury from third-party criminal conduct. If the defendant could not reasonably predict a risk of criminal conduct, then negligent security must not apply.

While the concept of foreseeability changes from situation to situation, there are many situations that produce an increased risk of negligent security claims. For example, a negligent security claim could arise if the defendant:

  • Ignored repeated criminal acts that occurred on their property;
  • Neglected to provide adequate training to employees or staff;
  • Refused to install security measures, such as alarms or cameras;
  • Failed to provide adequate lighting at entrances or exits or in parking lots;
  • Declined to institute security protocols or standard operating procedures; or
  • Disregarded threats of violence from employees, customers or patrons.

That being said, the Maryland courts evaluate each negligent security claim based on the specific facts at hand. As a result, it is difficult to create a standard rule that applies to every situation. Instead, property owners must exercise reasonable care to prevent harm or injury from third-party criminal acts.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you need legal help with a negligent security claim in Maryland, it can be thoroughly beneficial to contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, the attorneys at Iamele & Iamele, LLP have many years of combined legal experience with personal injury matters, including negligent security claims. If you need legal help, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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