Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Many Forms of Negligent Security in Pennsylvania

I have written a lot about Pittsburgh negligent security lawsuits- Negligent Security Interrogatories, Rape Due to Negligent Security, Jury Focus on Intentional Actors in Negligent Security Cases, Salon Shooting Raises Questions.  I have not, however, really specified the ways in which negligent security lawsuits may arise.  Negligent security cases fall into several categories- each with unique legal implications.  Here are just some of the types of negligent security cases I have come across:

1.  Poor lighting that was either inadequate to start or poorly maintained after installation.  You often see facts in these cases of someone being mugged or assaulted in a poorly lit area on the business owner's property.

2.  Negligent security personnel whom were poorly trained, not trained, not licensed or who took in appropriate action in an emergent situation.

3.  Faulty security equipment, including negligent access control/locking mechanisms, closed circuit television and surveillance systems.

4.  Negligent "CPTED"- Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design- this deals with negligent limiting of access to property through fencing, landscaping or other means.  These cases can arise when a contractor does not reasonably cordon off a dangerous work site or a homeowner fails to fence off a pool.

5.  Negligent supervision.  This can arise in many difference scenarios including children in daycare/pre-school, adults in nursing homes, patrons in businesses in a known dangerous area.

6.  Negligent or lack of proper security policies and procedures.  Many businesses do not have security policies in place at all.  Others have policies that do not adequately protect patrons.  This can also overlap into security guard cases where the guards are present but are not properly trained and/or licensed.

A common defense is that the security of a given establishment is the responsibility of all the employees not a specific security guard.  In most of these cases, however, a little digging reveals that none of the employees knew that patron security was a part of their job description.  If no one knows that they are responsible for security then there is no security.

Another scenario that often leads to negligent security lawsuits concerns the negligent hiring or retention of employees.  A friend of mine from high school found a very successful security firm in Florida.  He has said that the biggest security threat to businesses comes from the security personnel themselves.  This is because security guards are often paid meager wages.  Because of this, the job attracts people with no other options.  This can create a dangerous situation for the people who believe the guards are increasing their security.

Negligent hiring and retention often depends upon the position in question.  The duty for a security guard company or bank is going to be much different than, say, an accounting firm.  But the bottom line is that almost any employer has a duty to investigate a prospective employee's background before hiring them.  If a business fails to find out that a potential employee has a criminal past and then that employee commits a similar crime in the course of his employment, they may very well be held accountable for the results of the employee's actions.

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