A Clear View of Liability

By D. Anthony Nichter, CPP

No system. Finally, in terms of liability, the worst error is having no camera surveillance system in place when prevailing circumstances dictate that it would be prudent to have one. These circumstances include an established history of crimes against persons and property; an insufficient security force to cover the area; or a lack of other security methods or tactics to offset the absence of cameras. Juries will also take into account whether similar organizations in the same type of business or region typically have surveillance systems.

An example was a pay-by-the-week, long-term-stay hybrid motel and apartment complex with more than 700 units in 23 buildings on 18 acres of land. The complex had suffered the entire spectrum of crime, from small misdemeanors to serious felonies. To protect this massive complex, the management company had one guard and no camera surveillance except inside the rental office. One morning, a resident was outside smoking when she was brutally attacked and suffered permanent brain injury. The judgment at the trial was more than $3.5 million against the management company of the complex.

All of these examples provide crucial lessons for practitioners, lawyers, install­ers, and risk managers. Smart companies won’t wait to learn these expensive lessons in court. Instead, they will carry out proactive self-assessments and make necessary adjustments to limit the potential of harm to anyone on their property and to minimize their liability should unavoidable incidents occur.

photo by zigazou76/flickr


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