The best thing you can do to protect yourself from apartment liability is take action. This will help prevent a negligent security lawsuit.
What is a negligent security lawsuit? According to Yahoo! Finance, "a negligent security lawsuit focuses on the negligence of an apartment complex owner, property manager or security company whose inadequate security failed to protect a resident or guest from being shot and killed."
Here are a couple of stories that led to the filing of a negligent security lawsuit. No apartment property manager wants to experience it. Still, it's important to know about it and learn from it. You don’t want to learn the hard way.
The Dallas Morning News tells the story of a woman who was shot and killed at an apartment in the Dallas area. The family is suing the apartment complex and its owners. They believe the apartment property did not do enough to prevent her death.
The victim and a friend were shot in the courtyard of the apartment complex while two groups exchanged gunfire. The victims turned into the courtyard to head upstairs to the apartment when the gunfire struck.
The mother of the victim says the apartment needed better lighting and security. The complaint asserts the death could have been prevented had apartment property management done their jobs. Hence, this is an apartment liability case.
The family believes steps such as preventing unauthorized people from entering and implementing security would have stopped the tragedy from happening. The lawsuit claims that the apartment property managers and owners "know of the extensive and often violent criminal activity on the premises" before the gunfire happened.
Moreover, they had known about the "unacceptably high rate of crime and violent crime which created an unreasonable risk to residents and guests of the property."
Another apartment property is being sued by a family of a woman who was murdered in an apartment complex. The family told CBS DFW news that their elderly relative wanted to move to a retirement community that was a safe place for seniors to live.
The lawsuit asserts the apartment complex claims of being a secure living community was "geared only toward luring elderly residents to maximize occupancy and profits for their private equity owners and investors."
Apparently, the security gates often malfunctioned and failed to close completely. They stayed open for a long time, making it easy people for people like the serial killer to enter the property.
Fox13Memphis reports a family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Memphis apartment building and property management. The plaintiff's attorneys "claim the apartment complex wasn't secure enough despite recent crime."
The lawsuit goes on to state the apartment "failed to fulfill their duty to use reasonable care and take adequate and reasonable precautions and measures to protect the tenants."
The family's attorney indicates the apartment has a duty to keep the property safe. It's the same as maintaining the air conditioning and heating systems, providing clean water, and preventing mold. Some of the security measures the lawyer recommended the apartment complex implement include adding fencing and working with a security company.
Apparently, there have been more than 100 crimes within the apartment property and hundreds in less than half of a mile from the complex. The suspect fired an assault rifle into the parking lot on the apartment property. One of the bullets hit the victim who was located in a nearby unit. It's unclear if the suspect lived on the property, but he had access to an apartment in spite of having a criminal past.
Any accidents, deaths, and injuries that occur on a property can turn into an apartment liability issue. Apartment property managers and owners have a responsibility to keep the property safe for everyone including employees, residents, visitors, and vendors.
What can apartment property managers learn from these three lawsuits to reduce apartment liability? One of the first options property managers consider for apartment security is to hire security guards.
It sounds logical to hire security guards because they patrol the property and stand by to respond to an emergency. Additionally, they can enhance safety by escorting people to and from their vehicles.
Unfortunately, security guards may not be the best option. For example, an apartment property management company and a security guard service in Chicago were charged with nearly 30 lawsuits for excessive force and illegal search and seizures. In short, security guards can increase liability.
Like the apartment negligent security lawsuits, you'll find lawsuits involving security guards. American Apartment Owners Association shares several examples of how apartment security guards can cause a problem. In Tennessee, an armed apartment security guard assaulted a visitor. He should not have been working at the apartment complex at all because he didn't have the proper credentials.
In Georgia, police are investigating an incident in which two security guards at an apartment complex shot and killed a teen. They are claiming self-defense. In another case, guards killed a man inside his car who was a trespassing suspect.
Think using the name "courtesy officer" instead of "security guard" will reduce liability? Security expert Chris E. McGoey says that's not true. In Apartment Courtesy Officer Versus Security Guard Patrol, McGoey explains the name change does not change anything regarding liability. "To me, 'If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck…it’s probably a duck,'" he writes.
That's not all. "Managers get further hung up attempting to label them as independent contractors, as if that softens any liability exposure," says McGoey.
If security guards aren't a good option, what other options are there? There's one that can lower apartment liability.
Adding remote video surveillance to apartment security helps deter crime and protect people from criminal activities. Video cameras can watch the entire property simultaneously including parking lots, laundry rooms, fitness centers, entrances, back exits, and other common areas.
Unlike video cameras, security guards cannot see multiple locations at the same time. They can only see as far as the eyes can see. You can post guards in high-risk areas, but they can still miss something. Besides, the more guards you hire, the higher the cost. Those costs multiply exponentially.
How does live video surveillance affect apartment liability? Apartment video surveillance can actually lower liability. (This article lists court cases that support this.) The presence of video cameras can help prove liability and reduce the chances of an incident taking place.
When a human is not watching the cameras, video analytics do the monitoring. Security companies using artificial intelligence program many possible scenarios. As soon as AI finds a match to one of the scenarios, it acts by alerting the monitoring operator.
The operator reviews the footage and acts as needed. This could be contacting the police and providing real-time reports while following the activity on the monitors. In many cases, law enforcement will arrive at the apartment property and capture suspects before they do any damage.
Live video surveillance is a proactive security solution because it helps mitigate liability and fraud as well as deter crime. That's because the video recordings can be used as evidence in apartment liability cases. They also help with false claims.
Properties also deal with injuries, vandalism, and unexpected flooding. An apartment property that implements video surveillance gets around-the-clock eyes on the property, which helps minimize damage.
Furthermore, the monitoring operators watching the cameras are safely located in a building far from the apartment property. It adds another advantage in that you don't have to worry about them committing internal theft.
Check out these videos from apartment properties to see what video surveillance can do:
A live video surveillance system can come with an audio deterrent. This allows the operator to issue a warning to the intruders.
In one case, a kid had climbed the fence leading to the swimming pool. The monitoring operator warned the young person not to enter. Immediately, the kid turned around and took off. Without live video surveillance and an audio speaker, who knows what could have happened. It could've been an unforgettable tragedy for the child's parents.
Here are some benefits of apartment video surveillance:
The thing that surprises video surveillance clients most of all is the cost savings. Video surveillance costs up to 60 percent less than hiring security guards. It delivers a quick ROI and may increase revenues as residents place a high value on security. Video surveillance provides the peace of mind everyone wants. You can't put a price on that.
To learn more about apartment security, download your free Complete Guide to Securing Your Apartment Building. This guide lists options for securing your apartment building to help protect your residents and employees. It looks at four lines of defense to enhance apartment security. To learn more about apartment security with video surveillance, please contact us.