When guests enter another person's land or property, they have the right to expect to be reasonably safe. According to New Hampshire's premises liability laws, the property owner or party responsible for maintaining the property has a responsibility to visitors to make sure that the property is free from unnecessary danger. This includes making sure the property itself is free from hazards as well as secure. In some cases, this means providing adequate security. When guests on the property are injured due to a third-party, the property owner could be held liable for the damages because of negligent security.
The Associated Press reports that the families of 3 teenagers who were killed in a school shooting in Ohio in 2012 are suing the two schools involved for negligent security. In February 2012, 17 year old T.J. Lane walked into the cafeteria in Chardon High School and opened fire into a group of students. He fired 10 shots, killing and injuring several young students. Lane was eventually arrested and plead guilty to his crimes. He is now serving 3 life sentences. However, the families of his victims do not feel that this is enough.
Though the shooting took place at Chardon High School, Lane was not a student there. Rather, he took a bus to Chardon H.S. in order to commute to Lake Academy Alternative School where he was enrolled. This meant that he got off of the bus and entered a school in which he was not enrolled with a firearm.
The families are for filing suit against both schools because they believe that the schools should have taken more measures to keep their students safe. The suit argues that Chardon High School should have had more security and that administrators were aware the school lacked security and proper policies and procedures yet "failed to make changes". They also believed that Lake Academy administrators knew of Lane's mental instability and potential for violent behavior but failed to take any measures to help him.
If their attorneys have evidence suggesting that these accusations are true, particularly that school employees were aware of the lack of security measures, the families could have a strong case. In order for a negligent security claim to hold water, several factors must be present:
- A guest or visitor on the property was injured by a third party
- That injury could have been avoided had the property owner or responsible party incorporated more security measures
- The land owner or party responsible for maintaining the premises was aware of the lacking security measures yet did nothing to improve them
Negligent security cases are not as common as slip and fall or medical malpractice type injury cases. However, they do arise and when they do it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side. If you or a family member has been the victim of an injury due to negligent security, call Russman Law right now to find out more about your rights.