In this post, our injury lawyers will look at negligent security lawsuits in Oregon. When someone is the victim of an assault, sexual battery, robbery, murder, or other type of violence, a negligent security lawsuit can help them get money damages for what happened. If you get hurt because a business or property owner did not have reasonable security, Oregon law allows you to file a lawsuit and hold them responsible.
This page will explain the basic elements of negligent security cases in Oregon. We will also look at the potential settlement value of inadequate security lawsuits in Oregon by summarizing recent reported settlements and verdicts in prior cases.
When Can You File a Negligent Security Lawsuit in Oregon
Under Oregon law, 3 simple elements are required in order to bring a lawsuit for negligent security:
- The business or property owner had a duty to provide reasonable security
- The business or property owner breached that duty by negligently failing to provide and maintain reasonable security measures on the premises
- The plaintiff was the victim of violence on the premises (robbery, rape, assault, murder, etc.) as a direct result of the negligent security
The 1st element is generally very straightforward. The 2nd and 3rd elements, however, are much more complex and involve very subjective determinations. Each of these 3 elements are discussed in more detail below.
Businesses and Property Owners Have a Duty to Keep Guests Safe
The first element of a negligent security case is establishing that the defendant (usually a property owner or business) had a duty to provide security. This element is often very simply to establish because under Oregon law pretty much any business or property that hosts guests, customers, patrons or other invitees has a legal duty under Oregon law to ensure that the guests are safe while on the premises.
Although almost any business can be liable for negligent security, there are certain types or categories of businesses that are most commonly named as defendants in negligent security lawsuits. Below is a list of some of the most common types of defendants who can be held liable for inadequate security.
Apartment Complexes: Apartment complexes are very common defendants in negligent security cases. Apartment complexes are expected to provide a very high level of security compared to other types of businesses, so they a higher level of potential liability. Apartment management companies have a duty to provide gated access to common areas, video surveillance systems (that actually work), adequate lighting, working lock systems, and even 24-hour security guards.
Shopping Centers / Retailers: Retail stores (e.g., gas stations, convenience stores, etc.) and larger shopping centers, such as malls, or outdoor retail plazas, have a legal duty to ensure that customers are safe on the premises. Adequate security for a shopping center generally means proper lighting for parking and other areas, video surveillance, and possibly security guards or limited access parking.
Hotels / Motels: Much like apartment complexes, hotels are obligated to provide a very high level of security for their guests. This exposes hotels to a lot of potential liability anytime a guest is victimized at the hotel.
Bars / Nightclubs: Nightclubs and bars where alcohol is consumed by customers have an obligation to protect patrons from violence, including drunken brawls between patrons at the bar.
Hospitals: Hospitals need to ensure that patients and other visitors are reasonably protected from violence both inside the hospital and in common areas such as parking lots and pickup areas.
Schools: Schools in Oregon have a legal duty to keep students safe from violence, both from other students and non-students and staff. This duty is very circumstance specific, but it may require security screening, responding to credible threats, and possibly hiring school security.
Proving Inadequate Security
The second element in a negligent security claim requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant was negligent because they failed to provide reasonably adequate security on the premises. This is often the pivotal issue in a negligent security lawsuit. But what exactly does inadequate security actually mean?
Under Oregon law, adequate security means security measures that a reasonable business owner would be expected to provide under the circumstances. This means that almost any shortcoming or failure can be considered negligent security. Below are examples of some common types of negligent security claims that are frequently litigated.
Inadequate Locks: In certain contexts (e.g., hotels, apartment complexes) having a secure, functioning lock or access system is a critical security measure. This may be impractical for retailers, but residential properties need as much secure access as possible.
Poor Lighting: Good lighting is a simple but extremely effective deterrent for criminal activity. This is a frequent claim in negligent security cases because property owners and business often neglect to maintain lighting systems in outdoor areas, such as parking lots. The plaintiff simply needs to show that the poor lighting facilitated the violent crime.
Lack of Video Monitoring: certain types of properties, such a hotels, apartment complexes, or shopping centers, have an obligation to ensure that guests are safe by having a functioning video surveillance system. Video surveillance deters criminal activity and enables help to be dispatched when events do occur.
Lack of Security Staff: In certain circumstances, a property owner or business owner may have an obligation to hire onsite security guards to help protect patrons and visitors from violence. Failure to provide security staff can be the basis for a negligent security claim.
How Much Are Oregon Negligent Security Lawsuits Worth?
Negligent security lawsuits in Oregon have a relatively high average settlement value compared to other types of personal injury cases. This is particularly true in the more urban areas around Portland. Below are summaries of some verdicts and settlements from recent negligent security lawsuits in Oregon.
$4,500 Verdict (Multnomah County): A male suffered injuries to the neck, back, and right hand and bruises allegedly when he was assaulted by the defendant restaurant’s bouncers. The plaintiff contended that the bouncers attacked him without provocation. The defendants contended that the plaintiff was detained after he kicked out some of the restaurant’s windows. The low verdict in this case is clearly a reflection of what the jury thought about the plaintiff’s behavior.
$45,000 Settlement (Marian County): A 30-year-old female alleged that she suffered cranial nerve damage, facial scarring, a scalp avulsion, a visual impairment, and a concussion with post-concussion syndrome, when she was involved in a physical altercation with a nonparty patron at the defendant’s tavern. The plaintiff contended that the defendant failed to properly train and supervise its employees, and that it failed to provide adequate security personnel to stop the altercation.
$612,408 Verdict (Multnomah County): A 39-year-old machinist for a truck manufacturer was at the defendant’s bar in Portland when he was attacked by another patron. He suffered blindness in one eye, requiring future surgery to remove the eye, after he was struck by a knife wielded by the intoxicated patron. He sued to the defendant for negligent security based on its lack of security staff to restrain the assailant.
$800,000 Settlement (Marian County): A husband and wife in their late 60s were staying as guests at the defendant’s Best Western hotel on the Oregon coast. In the middle of the night, their room was broken into and they were both murdered during the robbery attempt. The wrongful death lawsuit against the hotel alleged that it was negligent in failing to provide for a proper, effective locking system on the windows in the hotel rooms, which is how the room was broken into.
$35,000 Settlement (Multnomah County): A 46-year-old woman gained access to the roof of the Standard Insurance Center Building in downtown Portland, Oregon and then committed suicide by jumping off the roof. The lawsuit was filed against the building owner and security contractor alleging that they were negligent in failing to keep the doors to the access stairwell and roof locked, and in allowing the decedent to access the roof.
Contact Us About Oregon Negligent Security Cases
If you have a negligent security lawsuit in Oregon, contact our personal injury lawyers today at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation or contact us online.