A broken lock. A poorly-lit parking garage. A door that doesn't close properly. All these things put everyday people at risk in public places. Whether you enter an apartment complex, a bar or a convenience store, the owner of that establishment is at least in part responsible for your safety.
If a mugging, assault or other crime in a public place could have been prevented by better security, the victim may be able to obtain compensation through a negligence lawsuit.
New Mexico's negligence and premises liability laws allow for legal claims based on inadequate or negligent security. Owning a business or other property comes with a duty to keep the premises safe, including from harmful acts by a third party.
As risk increases, so does a property owner's responsibility
Generally, negligence cases depend on showing that a breach of duty caused someone an injury. The level of duty varies based on what is considered to be reasonable under the circumstances.
If a property owner knows or has reason to know of criminal activity on their property, or even in the neighborhood, their security should match the risk of injury.
Property owners must provide appropriate security measures
The legal system expects commercial properties to implement the security measures necessary to create a reasonably safe environment. Depending on the property and the type of risk, safety measures may include:
- Extra lighting
- Security personnel
- Video surveillance
When property owners fail in this duty, the consequences can be dire. Inadequate security can lead to assault, robbery and other serious harms that could have been prevented.