The Role of Foreseeability in a Negligent Security Lawsuit

At first glance, the word “foreseeability” might seem like a relatively straightforward term. After all, what could be so confusing about the ability to foresee something? However, this word has led to all kinds of debate in the legal community, particularly in the context of personal injury lawsuits. The definition of foreseeability has become especially important in cases involving negligent security, and proving foreseeability is one of the most important steps for plaintiffs who are seeking settlements. If you are considering filing a lawsuit for negligent security, it makes sense to understand the role of foreseeability in a negligent security lawsuit.

Of course, understanding all of these legal terms and processes becomes much easier when you have a qualified personal injury attorney by your side. Our legal professionals can provide plenty of guidance and clarification as you navigate the ups and downs of your negligent security lawsuit. We understand the most important aspects of a personal injury lawsuit, and you can depend on us to do the “heavy lifting” so that you can pursue the compensation you deserve.

What is Foreseeability?

According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, the definition of foreseeability is “The ability to reasonably anticipate the potential results of an action, such as the damage or injury that may happen if one is negligent or breaches a contract.”

But what does this actually mean? If danger is foreseeable, then a reasonable person should have been aware of it. If they are aware of it, then they should have taken steps to avoid the danger or prevent it from happening. And if they should have taken steps to address the danger, then they should be held accountable if they fail to address the issue. Finally, these individuals should be held liable for the injuries of innocent people that have resulted from their failure to prevent dangerous situations from developing.

Why is Foreseeability Important in Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Foreseeability is important in personal injury lawsuits because it is the key “starting point” for establishing a defendant’s negligence. Most courts agree that if a defendant could not reasonably foresee the danger, then they should not be held liable for injuries that result from it. The argument is simple: if you cannot predict dangerous situations, then you cannot be expected to prepare for them. There are a number of accidents that are completely unforeseeable. These include so-called “acts of God,” such as earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and so on.

Foreseeability and Negligent Security Lawsuits

If a property owner has established an inadequate security system and someone is harmed by a criminal act on the property, they are not automatically held liable. This is due to the concept of foreseeability. In order for a property owner to be held liable, the specific criminal act must have been foreseeable. For example, a property owner might be aware that assaults often take place in the parking lot of a bar. As a result, they may hire a security guard to patrol the parking lot. However, if a terrorist then detonates a bomb inside the bar, they may not be held liable because such an event was completely unforeseeable.

Property owners only have the ability to reasonably foresee criminal acts based on patterns and trends in the past. If something completely unexpected occurs, they can not be expected to prepare for it. The contrast between a terrorist attack and an assault is considerable, but property owners can also escape liability for much more subtle differences between criminal acts. For example, a property owner may argue that they could not reasonably foresee the possibility of someone being sexually assaulted in a bathroom, if this had never happened before.

Examples of Foreseeable Harm

So, when exactly is a property owner expected to make adjustments to their security plan? What kinds of circumstances and trends are considered examples of “foreseeable harm?” Here are a few examples:

  • Similar Crimes: The first and most obvious example is a pattern of similar crimes on the property. For example, a public transit system might have logged multiple muggings at a particular train station.
  • The Neighborhood: The area around the property also plays a role in foreseeability. So-called “high-crime areas” should be taken into account by those who own properties nearby. A reasonable person should expect crimes to occur on these properties, and they should take steps to protect against them.
  • The Type of Establishment: Some business owners own establishments that are more likely to attract criminals. Fights and disputes are also known to break out at certain establishments. These include bars, nightclubs, concert venues, and others. Those who own these establishments should take reasonable steps to prevent these crimes from taking place.
The “Place or Character” of a Business

One of the most heavily debated concepts in negligent security lawsuits is the “place and character” of a business. Courts have struggled to define how exactly a business’ “place and character” can create opportunities for criminal behavior. In some cases, courts have argued that the constant flow of cash and liquor can lead to a “fertile environment for criminal conduct.”

In the modern era, criminology and social science make tracking crime a much more advanced process. We can now pin down areas, properties, and establishments that are “crime magnets.” The obvious examples are nightclubs, casinos, bars, and so on. But there are many qualifying establishments that you may not necessarily associate with high levels of crime. These include fast-food restaurants, dollar stores, vacant houses, bus stops, and many others.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been injured due to inadequate or negligent security in San Francisco, reach out to Mary Alexander & Associates. Thanks to a wealth of knowledge and experience with various personal injury cases, our law firm is well-positioned to help you pursue the settlement you deserve for your injuries. We understand how shocking and traumatizing these criminal acts can be, and we are passionate about fighting for the rights of injury victims in California. Reach out today, and we can begin the legal process as soon as possible.