Can I Get Money For An Assault?
We have heard this question much more frequently in recent years, since South Carolina’s violent crime rate has increased so much in such a short period of time. For example, the murder rate, which had declined recently, hit a thirty-year high in 2021. Criminal courts punish these offenders. However, in most cases, criminal courts do nothing to compensate the victims of these crimes.
For that compensation, a victim must turn to a Columbia personal injury lawyer. As outlined below, property owners and businesses have a duty of care to keep their guests safe, at least in most cases. If owners violate this duty and cause injury, they are liable for damages. These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Duty of Care
All injury claims, including negligent security claims, begin with a legal responsibility, or a duty of care. South Carolina courts determine the owner’s duty of care by looking at the relationship between the owner and victim, as follows:
- Trespasser: If the victim didn’t have permission to be on the property and the victim’s presence didn’t benefit the owner in any way, the owner usually had no duty to provide adequate security. After-hours skateboarders at high schools are usually trespassers.
- Licensee: A slightly higher duty of care applies if the victim had permission to be on the property, but the owner didn’t benefit. A guest of a hotel guest is a licensee. In these situations, owners must post signs or otherwise warn licensees about latent (hidden) injury hazards.
- Invitee: A much higher duty of care applies if the victim had express or implied permission to visit, and the visit benefited the owner in any way. This duty is usually a duty of reasonable care. Owners must remedy hazards, and not just identify them.
An inadequate level of security breaches an owner’s duty of care. For example, many business owners use “courtesy patrols” instead of hiring more aggressive security guards. That approach might make the property more welcoming, but it might not fulfill an owner’s duty of care.
Knowledge of Hazard
More commonly, a Columbia personal injury attorney must prove the owner knew, or should have known, about a defective security issue. These issues include broken cameras, burned-out lights, and malfunctioning gates.
Such inadequate security empowers evildoers. It’s easier to assault someone if a parking lot is unusually dark or a security camera is broken. That’s why owners are responsible for damages in these situations.
The evidence of knowledge could be direct, like a security report, or circumstantial, like a long-term issue the owner doesn’t address.
Foreseeability of Injury
Legal causation may be the least important issue in most injury claims. However, it’s often the most important issue in a negligent security claim.
Owners are only responsible for possible, or foreseeable, negligent security injuries. Evidence of foreseeability includes prior similar incidents at that location, the area’s overall crime rate, and prior similar incidents in the neighborhood.
Victim/plaintiffs must prove foreseeability, and every other element of a negligence case, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Contact a Hard-Working Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.