In response to a rising tide of violent crime, a Senate committee approved a bill that would allow authorities to detain juveniles accused of such crimes for up to forty-eight hours.
During his testimony before the committee, Louisville Metro Chief of Community Building Keith Talley said the violent crime rate was “unacceptable” and the proposal was an important early intervention tool. “What we are trying to do is to stop any retaliation and to de-escalate that situation as soon as possible,” he explained. Some opponents said the measure would roll back years of progress in the juvenile justice system. Others observed that many municipalities had closed their juvenile detention centers, so there was no place to house alleged offenders. For these reasons, Kentucky Youth Advocates Executive Director Terry Brooks called the bill “wrong-headed.”
The House has already approved the bill. It now moves to the full Senate for a vote.
Property Owner Responsibility for Violent Crimes
Violent crime is not just a government problem. It’s also a landowner problem. Owners usually have a duty to keep people safe from assaults and other violent crimes, even though a third party commits the crime.
Furthermore, stronger criminal laws do nothing to compensate the victims of these crimes. They only punish offenders. In most cases, only a Lexington personal injury attorney can obtain the compensation these victims need and deserve.
Quite frankly, violent crime victims need compensation so they can pay medical bills and other injury-related expenses. They also need compensation so they can put these incidents behind them and move on with their lives.
Protection from violent crime is part of a landowner’s general responsibility for visitor safety. This responsibility also includes things like preventing falls and swimming pool drownings.
Building a Negligent Security Claim
Examples of negligent security include broken cameras, open security gates, and burned-out lights. The level of security could be an issue as well. Some businesses require heavy security and others require almost none.
All owners have a responsibility to protect all guests, as mentioned above. The extent of that responsibility usually depends on the victim-owner relationship, as follows:
- Invitee (permission to be on the property and benefit to the owner),
- Licensee (permission but no benefit), and
- Trespasser (no permission and no benefit).
Almost all negligent security victims are invitees. The permission to be on the property could be general (an “open for business” sign) or specific (a dinner invitation). Likewise the benefit could be economic or noneconomic. The benefit doesn’t have to be significant. For example, foot traffic benefits owners, even if the person doesn’t buy anything.
Additionally, the victim/plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that the owner knew or should have known about the negligent security hazard which caused, or rather contributed to, the violent crime.
Common defenses in negligent security claims include comparative fault, or contributory negligence, and assumption of the risk.
Comparative fault basically shifts blame for an injury from the landowner to the victim. For example, the insurance company might argue that the victim chose to walk through a dark alley instead of using a well-lit sidewalk. This defense is also common in acquaintence sexual assualt negligent security claims.
Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the assault, the owner is still liable (responsible) for a proportionate share of damages. In other words, contributory negligence usually only reduces the amount of compensation.
Assumption of the risk could be a complete defense. It torpedos a negligence claim if the victim voluntarily assumed a known risk. That second element is very difficult to prove. Usually, violent crime is a theoretical or statistical risk, as opposed to a known risk.
Resolving a Negligence Claim
Most injury cases settle out of court. Initially, settlement negotiations often make little progress. Even if the aforementioned defenses wouldn’t hold up in court, an insurance company can still use them as an excuse to delay the process. Frequently, this delay prompts victims to give up and accept unfair settlement offers.
Therefore, many negligent security claims settle during mediation. Essentially, mediation is a court-supervised negotiation session. Insurance companies have a legal duty to negotiate in good faith. So, they cannot drag their feet. They also cannot make low-ball offers or simply go through the motions.
Because of the court supervision element, and also because the trial date is getting very close by the time mediation starts, mediation is about 90 percent successful.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We routinely handle matters in Fayette County and nearby jurisdictions.