Victims of violent crimes often assume they have few options after a serious injury. While the criminal justice system may put the person who harmed you behind bars for a handful of years, that will do little to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional trauma. However, if your injuries occurred as a result of a lack of security measures on another person’s property, then you may be able to recover compensation from the property owner.
At HN Injury Lawyers, our Santa Ana negligent security attorneys understand that you just want to move on with your life, but that can be difficult to do with costly medical bills weighing you down. Our legal team has the expertise to investigate the cause of your injuries, determine who is responsible for your trauma, and advocate for the highest possible award. To sit down with us in a free consultation and tell us what happened to you, call us at (657) 333-5726.
Traditionally, most violent crimes are treated as a case between a defendant and a plaintiff (the victim), where a district attorney attempts to convict a defendant under California’s penal code. However, a negligent security claim is based around building a case against a property owner who allowed a guest to be injured due to a lack of security. Property owners have a general duty of care towards all guests on their property, which includes providing basic security measures to prevent violent crimes, including:
- Bar assaults
- Sexual assaults
- Assault and batteries
When property owners break that duty, victims can pursue premises liability claims against them for proper compensation.
While the California criminal justice is focused on punishing and rehabilitating violent offenders, victims are often left with few options for recovering compensation. An assault or robbery can result in significant damages, including physical injuries, property damage, emotional distress, and medical bills. In a criminal trial, it is possible for a violent crime victim to seek restitution from a defendant or punitive damages, but this is rare and not always reliable for getting medical bills paid after a crime.
California does have a Victims Compensation Board (CalVCB) where victims can recover compensation for certain damages up to seven years after a crime was committed or seven years after a victim turns 18 years old. This program provides compensation for medical expenses, counseling, lost wages for up to five years after the crime, disability, job retraining, renovations to a home for medical disabilities, home security installments, relocation, crime scene clean-up, mileage reimbursement, and psychiatric hospitalization costs. However, these funds are limited to out-of-pocket expenses and, as of January 1, 2017, compensation is capped at $70,000. It is also possible for parents or legal guardians to recover compensation for the loss of a child due to a violent crime.
As important as CalVCB is, it still limits the amount of compensation a victim can receive. CalVCB is considered a “payor of last resort,” meaning victims must pursue all other forms of compensation before receiving compensation through CalVCB.
If a property owner allowed the crime to occur due to an act of negligence, then he or she should be one of the first parties to pay compensation to a victim. A premises liability claim can allow a crime victim to recover full compensation for all the damages that he or she has suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, emotional trauma, and pain and suffering, without any caps.
In order to recover compensation in a negligent security claim, a plaintiff must show that:
- The property owner was aware that a violent crime could occur, such as through local crime rates or previous reports of criminal activity;
- The property owner did not take steps to secure his or her property against criminal activity, such as hiring security guards or locking gates and doors;
- A guest was injured due to criminal activity while legally on the property; and
- The guest suffered financial costs due to his or her injuries.
Negligent security claims are not always clear-cut. Proper security measures can vary depending on what neighborhood you were injured in, local crime rates, and what is considered appropriate by other businesses. For example, if there were reports of robberies at local strip malls in Santa Ana, then mall security should be increased to protect guests. Failure to improve security measures could make a property owner liable for a victim's injuries.
In our experience, negligent security can include:
- Lack of security guards
- Lack of training for security guards
- Broken locks on apartment windows or doors
- Failing to secure apartment gates
- Lack of security cameras at entrances and exits
- Lack of security alarms
- Poor lighting in stairwells or parking lots
Violent crime is a major issue in California. In just one recent year alone, more than 170,000 arrests took place for homicides, rape, assaults, and robberies, as well as over 800,000 arrests for property crimes like burglary. Property owners in Santa Ana have a duty to educate themselves about the dangers of violent crimes in our neighborhood and take the necessary steps to protect guests. Failing to secure a business, whether it is a grocery store or hotel, from criminal activity can make a property owner liable for a victim’s injuries.
There is no excuse for putting a guest in danger, and property owners should pay proper compensation to victims for their negligence. Our team of Santa Ana personal injury attorneys at HN Injury Lawyers has stood by numerous clients after serious injuries and advocated for their best interests. With over 50 years of combined experience, we understand how to investigate negligent security cases and use our significant trial experience to stand up for our clients. We will not back down until we get you the highest possible award.
Call HN Injury Lawyers at (657) 333-5726 to discuss what happened to you in a free consultation.