CHICAGO — Drycleaning establishments are not exempt from negligent security claims.
Negligent security often involves serious crimes with severe damages that can even include assault, rape and death cases.
Juries tend to want to punish someone in these cases, and because the criminal assailant doesn’t have any money, the next in line is the owner. These claims fall into two subcategories: 1) failure to maintain adequate security measures 2) failure of the actual security measures in place.
An allegation of failure to maintain adequate security measures may be levied against a dry cleaner that is in a well-known high crime area, has a dimly lit parking lot and has no security guard or surveillance camera system.
Unfortunately, it really is as simple as that to get a case started against that hypothetical establishment.
An allegation of failure of actual, presumably sufficient security measures could arise if said dry cleaner had a lone security guard fall asleep as a crime occurred on premises.
The majority of litigation is from failure to maintain adequate security measures. It’s difficult for an owner to maintain sufficient security because it’s usually a moving target.
So how does an owner take steps to avoid a negligent security lawsuit? This is the million-dollar question.
THE PREVENT FIVE
To protect your drycleaning business, it is recommended that an owner hire a security professional to evaluate all aspects of the cleaners for potential exposure.
Security consultants are everywhere and an opinion from a good one is worth its weight in gold in the prevention department. But, even without hiring a professional, here are the first two of five things every owner of a drycleaning business should be looking at from a security standpoint.
1. 24/7 Surveillance
Sadly, this should be a given for any business owner. Statistics show that surveillance cameras deter crime.
They are also effective in catching staged slip-and-falls to prove that there was no spot remover dripping on the floor, or plastic carelessly left in the doorway.
There was a time when a surveillance system was simply not affordable for some businesses. Now, the technology is easy, accessible and relatively cheap.
2. Area statistics on crime
Most police stations have data about criminal activity easily accessible in a given radius from your place of business. If not, you can request information and a security expert can produce important statistics.
If a violent crime occurs and someone is seriously hurt or killed on the property, a lawyer will obtain the crime grid. If the data reveals hundreds of violent crimes occurred in the past year in the dry cleaner’s 3-mile radius, the owner should have taken appropriately strong security measures.
Even if there was significant criminal activity in an adjacent parking lot — or equally important, a nearby drycleaning competitor, the owner has the responsibility to take preventive steps. If not, the owner has a serious problem with liability.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion.