October 28, 2022
How Can Parking Lots Become Safer?
Parking lots are inherently dangerous. While you may immediately assume we’re speaking about the dangers cars pose in terms of vehicles striking each other or pedestrians, there’s so much more that makes locations like these dangerous.
Many parking lot dangers that shoppers, workers, concert or sports game attendees, and individuals on official business face when using parking lots would be largely preventable if it weren’t for negligent security issues. Below, we’ll describe how these premises endanger users’ lives and what can be done to make parking lots safer.
How Common Are Parking Lot or Garage Crimes?
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Crime Data Explorer software, there were 1,807 violent crimes reported in parking lots or garages in 2021. While most of these offenses were committed by individuals unknown to the victim, acquaintances or significant others were responsible for the rest of these scenarios.
The commissions of these violent crimes that occurred in parking lots often involved the use of a gun, knife, or another type of weapon. These crimes were often accompanied by the commission of other offenses such as the destruction of property, kidnapping, assault, or some other dangerous crime.
At 400.1 per 100,000, Georgia ranks just over the national average of 398.5 in terms of the rate at which violent crimes occur.
Violent crime risks that parking lot users face include:
What Constitutes Negligent Security?
Negligent security is a type of negligence that may warrant filing a premises liability claim. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, this type of civil legal action centers around an individual suffering what they contend was a preventable injury due to a property owner’s failure to provide adequate safety measures, such as:
- A security guard (or an experienced one)
- Surveillance cameras
- Restrictive entry measures, such as fencing or check-in stations
- Adequate lighting
- Warning signs of perhaps an electric fence or guard dog on the premises
- Trim back overgrown hedges where would-be assailants could hide
Property Owners’ Responsibilities To Keep Their Premises Safe
Very few (if any) jurisdictions in Georgia require private businesses or government offices to follow a specific protocol in securing their premises. Instead, there’s a general requirement that all businesses ensure that their property is reasonably safe for those who visit it.
If someone gets hurt on an Atlanta area property and they can show that the owner had reason to know it was unreasonably unsafe and didn’t take any precautions to minimize risk in light of that, then they can be sued. This premises liability doctrine has led many government agencies and private businesses to employ security personnel and take other measures to keep their people and premises safe to minimize their liability risk.
Hiring a Security Guard Isn’t Always an Adequate Crime Deterrent
Is hiring security personnel something all entities need to do to minimize their liability exposure? No, and that’s where the idea of negligent security comes in.
An entity can have a security guard on staff and even have one that circulates through their premises regularly and still face negligent security accusations. “Why?” you might ask.
A parking lot owner may face negligent security accusations if the security guard they hired wasn’t:
- Adequately experienced or vetted for their role (i.e., no background check was performed on them, or there wasn’t any verification of their work history or credentials)
- Well-trained to perform their role (i.e., isn’t aware of protocol to follow in certain instances)
The security guard also may not have performed their assigned tasks, thus increasing the potential for someone to get hurt.
Some examples of this type of negligence might include a security officer not:
- Circulating in a parking lot every hour or another allotted amount of time
- Checking behind the shopping center for illicit activity or someone in danger
- Failing to check identification (ID) cards, cars, or a person (via a metal detector) as required by their employer
- Turning on the lights or activating the camera system to enhance safety
- Being permissive of illicit activity instead of reporting it to the police
Additional Security Deficits That Make Parking Lots Unsafe
As mentioned above, the absence or negligent actions of security is only one concern. Plenty of other matters can constitute negligent security, thus making parking lots unnecessarily unsafe.
As an example, take the scenario of a recent uptick in reports of drug activity or carjackings in an area. A parking lot owner in the same area doesn’t adjust their security measures to minimize the risk of that criminal activity spilling over onto their property. A victim may have a valid reason to try and hold the parking lot owner liable for having negligent security if they get hurt.
In the scenario above, the injured party might argue that had the parking lot owner had a security guard, installed more lighting, or cut back the hedges, it would have greatly reduced the opportunity for someone to harm them.
As another example, you may have suffered injuries after venturing onto a property where a guard dog was present. In this instance, whether you were lawfully entitled to be on the premises may affect whether you are entitled to file a claim alleging negligent security. If you had a right to be in the parking lot and the owner failed to let you know that a dog was roving inside, you might have a valid reason to take legal action against them for your injuries.
Making Parking Lots Safer
As you might have surmised by now, there are a few different measures parking lot owners can take to improve the safety of their premises, including:
- Installing better lighting to illuminate dark parking lots
- Enclosing their parking lot to minimize the chances of anyone walking into it
- Adequately warning users of the presence of guard dogs if an owner is using them to secure the premises
- Having a carefully vetted security guard circulating the premises and following established protocol
- Installing surveillance cameras to monitor every angle of the property at all times (and having someone monitor the footage in real-time)
Factors like the ones above can prevent individuals from unnecessarily getting hurt. Owners could make their parking lots become safer by instituting these measures.
If you’ve been hurt in a parking lot and believe that the property’s owner could have done something more to change your fate, it can be helpful to consult with a negligent security lawyer. Our Atlanta-based Bey & Associates attorneys can evaluate whether you have a premises liability claim worth pursuing. If it is, then you can count on us to fight aggressively on your behalf to secure the maximum compensation you deserve.