Premises liability law requires businesses and property owners to keep their premises in reasonably safe and secure condition for invited guests. In Texas, businesses have a responsibility to protect customers and other invitees from certain risks posed by third-party criminal assailants. If an assault or attack occurs because of negligent security, the business or property owner may be legally liable for the victim’s injuries. Here, our Brazoria County premises liability lawyers highlight the key things to know about negligent security claims in Texas.
Background: Criminal Bears Liability, But Rarely Can Pay
A person who commits an assault can be held legally responsible for the harm that they cause. Beyond any criminal liability, an assailant may also face civil liability. Here is the challenge for victims: The perpetrator of an assault/attack rarely has the assets to cover the victim’s damages.
A negligent security claim offers a potential path forward. The business or property owner responsible for the premises where the incident occurred could also bear civil liability for the victim’s injuries.
Texas Law on Negligent Security: A Duty to Use Ordinary Care
In Texas, a person, business, organization, or other entity has no overriding legal obligation to protect others from criminal assaults/attacks by third parties. However, there is an important exception under premises liability law. The standard is well-explained by the Supreme Court of Texas in the case of Timberwalk Apartments, Partners, Inc. v. Cain.
The 1998 case centered around a negligent security lawsuit filed by a woman who was sexually assaulted in the bathroom of a Houston area apartment complex. The defendant, Timberwalk Apartments, Partners, Inc., owned and operated the 300-unit apartment complex. The victim raised many different specific allegations against the business/property owner, including:
- Failure to install proper bars/padlocks on doors;
- Failure to install pin locks on sliding doors;
- Inadequate alarm systems in the building;
- Improperly secured exterior entrance gates;
- Lack of sufficient lighting; and
- Lack of adequate surveillance and security personnel.
In the instructive decision, the Supreme Court of Texas clarified the standard for negligent security. The state’s top court held that a business or property owner can only be held legally responsible for a third-party criminal attack if they failed to abide by their “duty to use ordinary care to protect invitees from criminal acts” and the incident in question occurred because the invitee was exposed to an “unreasonable and foreseeable risk.”
The Bottom Line: Business and property owners can be held liable for negligent security in Texas. A claimant must prove that the third-party assault/attack happened because the defendant failed to use the proper case to protect people from a foreseeable risk.
Call Our Brazoria County Premises Liability Attorney Today
At the Kolodny Law Firm, our Brazoria County premises liability lawyers have the professional skills and legal expertise to handle negligent security claims. If you or someone you know was hurt because a business or property owner failed to take the proper safety precautions, we are here to help. Contact us now for a free, no-obligation initial appointment with a lawyer. Our law firm handles premises liability claims throughout all of Brazoria County.