Is Your Columbus Business Safe for Your Patrons?

Is Your Columbus Business Safe for Your Patrons? One of the more critical aspects of running an establishment – whether a nightclub, bar, hotel, or shopping center – is security. The failure to provide adequate security can leave guests and patrons vulnerable to harm or violence, and potentially result in a negligent security lawsuit. These lawsuits can result in significant financial compensation to victims, not to mention damage to the establishment’s reputation. To avoid these issues, businesses should prioritize the safety of their customers above all else by implementing proper security measures and taking the right steps to mitigate risks.

Today’s blog discusses strategies and steps establishments can take to protect their patrons. Take it from attorneys who routinely represent personal injury victims in negligent security lawsuits: you’re going to want to read this.

What is a negligent security lawsuit?

A negligent security lawsuit arises when a plaintiff (or plaintiffs) accuses an establishment of failing to provide reasonable security measures that could have prevented its patrons from experiencing harm. The establishment could be held liable for injuries or damages result from criminal acts or injuries that could have been prevented with appropriate security measures. These claims usually revolve around a theory called “duty of care,” which means that the business has a legal responsibility to provide its patrons with a safe environment.

How can an establishment avoid a negligent security lawsuit?

There are a variety of strategies a business can employ to avoid their patrons experiencing harm, including the following:

Conduct a comprehensive security assessment

The first step in preventing a negligent security incident, and maybe the most important one, is conducting a thorough security assessment of the establishment. This should identify all potential security risks, vulnerabilities, and any areas of concern. Business owners should consider hiring security consultants or experts to provide recommendations for more effective security measures. Factors that should be taken into consideration include business location, building layout, local crime rates, previous incidents, building access points, and lighting conditions.

Implement appropriate security measures

After the security assessment is complete, the establishment should implement security measures tailored to their specific needs. These measures can include things like:

  • Surveillance systems. Installing cameras in strategic locations around the premises can help monitor activity. Ensure these cameras cover all critical areas, like entrances, exits, parking lots, and all interior spaces. Maintain and test these surveillance systems regularly to ensure they are in good working order.
  • Access control. Consider implementing access systems, like keycards or locks, to restrict entry to authorized individuals only. This helps enhance overall security and prevents access by unauthorized individuals.
  • Adequate lighting. Well-lit areas inside AND outside the establishment improve visibility, deter criminal activity, and make patrons feel safer. When lighting your business, pay particular attention to the parking lot, walkways, garage, and other areas where poor lighting could create a safety risk.
  • Trained security personnel. Hire trained security people or contract with a reputable security company. These employees should be trained in identifying possible threats, handling difficult situations, and responding properly to emergencies. Even the presence of security serves as a deterrent and can provide a sense of safety to patrons.
  • Emergency communication. Establish effective communication systems with employees, like two-way radios or panic buttons, to facilitate rapid response/coordination during emergencies. If an incident occurs, this enables staff to quickly alert security or law enforcement.
  • Physical barriers. Install barriers like sturdy fencing or bollards to control access points to the establishment and control unauthorized entry. This can help manage crowds, restrict entry during certain hours, and enhance security.

Develop clear policies and procedures for safety and security

Developing clear security policies and procedures is also essential for security management. Policies should cover things like ID checks, monitoring and reporting suspicious behavior, handling disruptive patrons, and responding to emergencies. Staff should be trained on these policies and receive reinforcement training regularly.

Perform regular maintenance and inspections of property

It’s also crucial to inspect and maintain the establishment and property regularly to identify any potential safety hazards. Establish a routine inspection schedule to look for issues like broken locks, damaged structures, malfunctioning security equipment, inadequate lighting, and the like. Address these issues promptly to ensure the safety of patrons and mitigate any potential risks. Maintenance also includes testing security systems and cameras and emergency communication devices to ensure they are in good working order.

Collaborate with local law enforcement

Establishing a proactive relationship with local law enforcement can help enhance security and reduce the risk of negligent security lawsuits. Communicating regularly with local police can help address security concerns and share relevant information about crime trends. Law enforcement can provide guidance on security measures and offer assistance with security training for staff.

Train and educate staff members

A well-trained and knowledgeable staff is key for effective safety and security. Offer training programs to educate staff on customer interaction, security protocol, and emergency response procedures. Train staff on identifying possible security threats, handling difficult or aggressive clientele, and cooperating with law enforcement. Conduct refresher training to reinforce this education and ensure all employees are up to date on all the latest procedures.

Establish a “culture of safety”

A culture of safety is paramount to setting up and maintaining a secure environment for everyone. This includes fostering a respectful atmosphere where both staff and patrons feel comfortable reporting any safety concerns or incidents. Regularly communicate security guidelines and updates to stakeholders – including staff, patrons, and vendors – to ensure everyone is aware of the establishment’s commitment to safety.

Document and maintain records

Maintaining accurate and detailed records is also crucial for mitigating the risk of a negligent security lawsuit. Document all security-related incidents, including any reported crimes, accidents, injuries, or property damage. Record any steps taken to address each incident, such as notifying law enforcement, providing medical assistance, or implementing security measures to prevent it from happening again. These records serve as evidence of the establishment's commitment to security and can help demonstrate that reasonable precautions were taken to prevent further harm.

And finally:

Regularly review and update security measures

All security measures should be regularly reviewed, evaluated, and updated to address any changing security risks or Columbus legal requirements. Conduct periodic reviews of security protocols, procedures, and technologies to ensure their continued effectiveness and compliance with local and industry standards. Ensure you stay informed about relevant laws and regulations related to security, and make necessary adjustments.

Remember, establishments must prioritize the safety and security of their patrons to avoid negligent security lawsuits. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for any injuries and damages experienced by their patrons. And we promise you that you don’t want us on the opposite side of the aisle if you’re facing a claim for negligence.

Soroka & Associates has earned its reputation for competent, aggressive, and proactive work on behalf of injury clients in negligent security claims. Contact a Columbus personal injury lawyer today by calling our office or submitting our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation.