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Negligent Security and Apartment Crime

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Personal Injury Lawyer DCIf you live in an apartment complex, your landlord has a legal duty to protect you and your guests from foreseeable criminal acts.  Put another way, landlords have a duty to provide a reasonable level of security. If a property owner fails to fulfill its duty, and a tenant or guest is injured as a result of crime, the property owner may be liable for monetary damages.

Criminals choose times and locations where there will be plenty of victims, compared to a low likelihood of getting caught. They choose places like apartment complexes, restaurant and nightclub parking lots, and convenience store areas who have lax security measures in place – e.g., where lighting isn’t properly maintained, landscaping is overgrown (providing places to hide), security gates aren’t maintained, and loitering is permitted.  Criminals know precisely which places are better than others to commit their crimes.

What does “reasonable” mean when talking about security?

It depends. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.  The amount of security depends on the particular facts involved – e.g. the property location, size, layout, and history of crime.  A jury will ultimately decide what’s reasonable if a settlement cannot be reached.

When our firm investigates a potential negligent security case, we look at many factors, including the following:

  • The type of crime committed
  • The criminal(s) at issue
  • Location and size of the apartment complex
  • Points of access to the property
  • Landscaping
  • Lighting
  • Gates and fencing
  • Utilization of security personnel or surveillance systems
  • Crime statistics for property and surrounding area

Why wouldn’t a property owner provide security?

While every crime obviously can’t be prevented, and while every crime is obviously not the fault of a property owner, security measures do cost money, and our experience shows that profit is often placed above the safety of tenants and victims.  As personal injury lawyers, we often discover that out-of-town companies own apartment complexes and businesses in high crime neighborhoods, and they do little to protect their residents and visitors to the properties, because spending money on security cuts into profits.

We fight for civil justice for crime victims.

While our criminal justice system charges and prosecutes criminals for their offenses, it does not adequately address the damages suffered by the victims of crime.  Criminal court provides no avenue for crime victims to recover their financial and quality of life damages.  To seek full justice, victims must hire their own lawyers and seek redress in the civil court system.


Thanks to our friends and contributors at Wiseman Bray PLLC who have significant experience fighting for victims that have suffered catastrophic injury due to violent crime.  Their team is led by Harvard Law graduate, Lang Wiseman, who is a member of the respected National Crime Victim Bar Association.  Please visit the NCVBA website for informational booklets and other material.

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