Monday, May 12, 2014
Regardless of the size and sophistication of a business – from the sole proprietor of the neighborhood bar to the international conglomerate – the concept of providing a reasonably safe premises remains the same: namely, a business must provide reasonable security commensurate with reasonably foreseeable threats and risks; and reasonable foreseeability is generally determined by a conscious analysis of the inherent nature of the business and the history of general criminal acts at and around the business.
While large organizations may meet their obligation to provide a safe environment via sophisticated security programs with designated personnel and formalized policies and procedures, even small businesses must do something proactively to meet their obligation – they must still take into account the kinds of problems that they will likely encounter given their particular situation (i.e., location, nature of business, clientele, prior problems, etc.).
Many small businesses erroneously presume that their small size will somehow either preclude problems or somehow absolve them of their legal obligation to provide a safe environment. But statistics continue to show that small businesses – bars, apartment buildings, retail stores, etc. – are the venues where criminal activities are most likely to occur and consequently the kinds of places most likely to be sued for inadequate security. And the settlements and awards stemming from these lawsuits should give business owners and operators cause for concern.
This information is important for 2 reasons: First, it is prudent for businesses to understand that proactive attention to security matters is better and ultimately less expensive than after-the-fact litigation; and businesses that may find themselves involved in premises security liability cases need to remember that the criteria by which security is assessed will be the same regardless of the size of the business at which an incident has occurred.