Personal Injury Blog for North Carolina

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Can assault survivors sue for negligence?

| Nov 27, 2020 | Personal Injuries |

Nobody should have to endure the nightmare of an assault. Whether a mugging, armed robbery, rape or sexual assault, the ordeal can leave victims with lifelong after-effects. Medical bills, time off work and related expenses can cause financial strain. Additionally, ongoing therapy may be necessary to start regaining a semblance of normal life.

Apart from the criminal proceedings – which may or may not bring justice – what other recourse do assault victims have?

Negligent security claims

One possibility is a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the property where the assault took place. These negligent security claims are a subset of premises liability. They rest on the principle that property owners have a duty to keep their premises safe. That duty includes implementing reasonable security measures to prevent violent crimes.

Negligent security claims might involve:

  • Broken locks
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Unsecured entrances
  • Broken windows
  • Absence of security guards
  • Lack of security cameras

While these incidents could take place anywhere, they frequently involve commercial properties such as parking garages, hotels, apartment complexes, nursing homes, bars and nightclubs.

What do survivors have to prove?

All personal injury claims involve three basic elements:

  1. A duty of care
  2. Failure to uphold that duty
  3. Harm that results from that failure

In the context of negligent security claims, that means proving that the property owner had a duty to provide certain security measures. The scope of those measures depends on factors such as the type of business or property and the risk of crime in that area. The crime must have been a foreseeable consequence of the property owner’s failure to provide those security measures. Finally, the harm that resulted can extend far beyond just the physical. It can include financial and emotional harm, too.

While nothing can fully undo that harm, a successful claim can soften the economic blow and help provide the justice and closure needed to move forward.

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