Oregon Premises Liability: Negligent Security Claims

Every Oregon property owner has a responsibility to make sure people who are invited onto that property, or who otherwise have a right to be there, are protected from attack and injury.

When that protection is not provided, Portland negligent security lawyers are often called upon to sue the owner of the premises in a negligent security lawsuit. As well as injuries caused by third party attacks, these claims can also be filed if someone has been injured due to unsafe conditions.

Determining Liability in Negligent Security Claims

When determining the grounds for a negligent security lawsuit, a large number of factors have to be taken into consideration, including the newest interpretations of negligent security laws that are now extending into areas like terrorist attacks, attacks in the workplace and even attacks that originate in cyberspace. For example:

  • Did a dangerous condition exist on the property and did the property owner know about it? If not, should he or she have known?
  • Did the owner (or possessor) of the property take reasonable steps to eliminate that danger, or did they fail in their duty to do so?
  • Was the failure of the property owner’s action—or lack of it—the proximate cause of the injuries sustained?
  • It’s fair to say that any property could pose some kind of risk to visitors. Did the dangerous condition on this property present an unreasonable risk to people on the property?
  • Was the unreasonable risk obvious to the people on the property, or were they unaware of its existence?

When are property owners expected to protect me from injury? 

In Oregon, property owners have no general duty to protect people from third-party attacks, except in certain circumstances. For example, if someone is invited onto a property as a guest, the state would impose a “duty of care” on the property owner to provide a reasonable level of protection from known dangers on the property, or those dangers that should have been known to the property owner.

Or, if the property is located in a high-crime area, it would be expected that the property owner would warn guests of those risks and provide reasonable precautions to protect guests from attack and injury.

Portland negligent security lawyers say that a risk is foreseeable if its occurrence can be anticipated, or even if it should have been anticipated. Would a person of ordinary cautiousness expect the risk to either exist or occur under the circumstances surrounding the visit to the property? If so, the property owner can be held liable for any injuries sustained. Other ways of determining whether or not a criminal attack or other danger was foreseeable include:

  • If there were prior instances of criminal attacks either on the property or in the immediate area, then the property owner should have been foreseen the potential danger to visitors. This is referred to as “imminent harm.”
  •  “Prior similar incidences” is much like imminent harm, except that it refers to previous comparable criminal acts performed on or near the premises within a specific time frame.
  • Taking everything into consideration, including the location, condition, layout of the premises and any other relevant factors on or within the near vicinity of the property, or in other words the “totality of the circumstances,” will help determine whether or not an attack was foreseeable.

In any of the above scenarios, Oregon courts will generally find that the property owner was responsible for protecting visitors and guests from third-party assaults. Depending on the situation, it can be said that security measures including hiring a qualified security service, installing and properly monitoring security cameras, developing a security plan or implementing building access control measures should have been employed. In hotels, it can be argued that one-use hotel room key cards should be used. At ATM machines, panic buttons should be installed.

Oregon courts will try to balance the likelihood of a third-party attack and other potential for harm against the efforts of the property owner to prevent any harmful incidents by introducing security measures. So it’s not necessary to have armed 50 armed guards in a small office building located in a low-crime area. However, if an Oregon court finds there has been a high incidence of crime in the area and that injuries have occurred, they will also find that if the property owner’s security costs are low, they might be liable for injuries that occur on their property.

Common defenses against negligent security claims:

The most common defenses heard by Portland negligent security lawyers include:

  • The property owner saying they did not owe a duty of care to the injured person
  • A reasonable amount of security was provided, even if an attack took place.
  • The injured party was at least partially responsible. This is known as “contributory negligence,” whereby the plaintiff is claimed to share the blame because they didn’t exercise reasonable care.
  • The property owner apportions all the blame, or at least most of it, to the assailant’s criminal conduct
  • Nothing would have worked. Criminal profiling could be presented in court to show that none of the available security measures could have prevented the type of criminal attack that took place.

What you can do to start a claim:

Quite clearly, negligent security claims are highly complex and open to huge discrepancies in interpretation. Most will be vigorously defended by the property owner and his insurance companies.

Therefore, if you have been injured because a property owner has provided inadequate protection, the first thing you should do after getting the proper medical treatment is contact our experienced team of Portland negligent security premises liability lawyers. They will listen to what happened to you and explain both the pros and cons of pursuing a claim. If you decide to go ahead, they will guide you through the entire process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.