Avoid Trespasser Liability with a Solid Security Camera Defense

The legal benefits of commercial security camera installation.

Last Updated:
June 16, 2023
| ~
min Read
Sarah Paxton
Marketing Writer

Installing commercial security cameras can prevent frivolous lawsuits and mount a solid defense against costly allegations and trespasser injury accidents.

Some are shocked that trespassers can sue for injuries sustained while unlawfully entering a property. It isn’t expected. But it does happen. Knowing how to protect yourself is essential. Knowing the legal definition of trespassing in your state and what responsibilities business owners carry to prevent accidents on their properties can save thousands of dollars.

Trespassing doesn’t have to be intentional. It is sometimes accidental. And people can get hurt and sue. The first way to protect a property and prevent frivolous lawsuits is installing a commercial security camera system. 

Why are commercial security cameras necessary?

Four of 10 small businesses have a general liability insurance claim. Of those, 35% result in a lawsuit. 

Not only do lawsuits waste time, but they are also expensive. The average slip-and-fall lawsuit costs business owners $22,000. To protect business owners from lawsuits like this, businesses must retain a general liability insurance policy. 

Commercial security cameras decrease property damage liability insurance risk.

General liability insurance policies protect businesses and their owners. Accidents happen. When they do, companies can be covered with a policy that pays with the cash needed if something happens.  

Installing commercial security cameras are an essential part of security measures to keep people safe and help reduce an insurance company’s risk of a claim. Because of this, installing cameras may reduce the policy payment. Security cameras can also be claimed as a tax deduction. 

To qualify for an insurance discount, businesses must contact their policyholder, provide evidence they have met the requirements, and then go through a review process. Insurance companies typically audit the security measures before any discount or rebate is given.

In addition to the financial incentives available to businesses that install a commercial security system, it is crucial to know the law.

Knowing trespasser liability laws, legal safety requirements, and how CCTV can prevent frivolous lawsuits gives business owners the confidence they need to protect themselves against injury lawsuits and trespassing liability claims and improve overall safety for any visitor, day or night.

What type of commercial security cameras are available?

There are three types of commercial security cameras for businesses:

  • Hard-wired cameras. These cameras use existing wiring as their primary power source. There are no batteries to switch out. If the power goes out, the camera will also lose power unless the business has a generator.
  • Mobile security cameras. These cameras use batteries and solar power. Remotely monitored and free of the need for an external power source, they do not require a local Wi-Fi signal and can operate in remote locations. The footage is stored in the cloud and can be monitored for trespassing and theft anywhere, day or night.
  • Business CCTV systems. CCTV stands for closed circuit television systems. The recordings are stored in a closed-loop system, and cameras are typically hard-wired into a power source. Having a CCTV system means only employees can access the footage. Additionally, nothing recorded is publicly accessible or broadcasted.

Discussing safety concerns with a security company will help identify what type of security system will be most effective to prevent crime. They will also be able to leverage the latest technological solutions to protect employees, merchandise, and the business from lawsuits.

Businesses can be hurt in a number of ways by failing to provide adequate security measures. Their reputation can be damaged. Customers may not feel safe enough to visit, or the business may be held liable for an injury and have to pay a significant amount of damages in a costly legal situation.

In order to help property managers and business owners know the laws about security requirements for their business, the following are seven ways commercial security cameras or a CCTV security system can prevent lawsuits and decrease liability claims from injury lawsuits and trespasser injury lawsuits.

Seven ways commercial security cameras can decrease liability from trespasser injury lawsuits

#1 Proves reasonable care

Reasonable care is the degree of safety measures put in place to ensure injuries, crimes, or even deaths do not occur on a property. Owners must show reasonable care.

According to law.com, the definition of reasonable care is the degree of caution and concern for the safety of himself/herself and others an ordinarily prudent and rational person would use in the circumstances.

Businesses wanting to demonstrate a high degree of reasonable care need to first identify if they are at an exceptionally high risk of liability for damages from trespassers. For example, a shopping mall or parking garage usually are at high risk because of parking lot theft. 

The best way to measure risk of a lawsuit is to use historical data. If crimes happened regularly in the past, it’s likely a lawsuit could happen in the future.

Why would a business get sued by a trespasser? A company could be sued by either the victim or perpetrator if it did not make adequate attempts to inform occupants of the risks and take appropriate security measures (reasonable care).

  • The Restatement (Second) of Torts requires a plaintiff suing for negligent security to show that the owner didn’t investigate potential criminal activities or didn’t warn guests of known risks. 
  • A negligent security lawsuit may also require evidence proving the owner took action to keep people safe—something called foreseeability. Foreseeability is a critical issue in negligent security cases. 

In most states, foreseeability is determined by the type and number of previous incidents of a similar kind. Courts will also want to know whether the owner or manager knew or should have known about the incidents. They will take into account how many times the police have been called to a property, what type of crimes occurred, where the alleged violence happened, and the period of time between incidents. 

Have you noticed more signs alerting drivers to increased theft in a parking lot? The odds are high that the owners have been sued. They may also be trying to reduce their liability or work to prevent future crimes.

In addition to shopping malls and parking garages, farms, construction sites, and critical infrastructure locations contain hazardous equipment, access to unsafe structures, and potential exposure to harmful chemicals or power sources. Access could result in permanent injury or even death.

Typically a plaintiff will need to prove they were onsite legally, the defendant failed to provide reasonable care, and that injuries would not have been sustained if more security precautions had been taken. The plaintiff also needs to provide evidence of the damages. 

One such lawsuit occurred when two students recently trespassed into a power substation at night in Rhode Island. Not-so-shockingly, one was injured. Her hand had to be amputated, and she spent two months in the hospital.

There was a lawsuit, and eventually, the state supreme court ruled National Grid was not responsible for the injury. But personal injury defendants don’t always walk away without damages.

#2 Business CCTV systems monitor dangerous equipment

Property owners, managers, and companies are legally obligated to protect against hazards and prevent injuries. Therefore, properties must be reasonably maintained. Hazards include everything from uneven sidewalks to dangerous equipment, pools, and even protection against assault and robbery. 

Injuries on a job site due to lack of maintenance or dangerous equipment can be significant. Owners can be sued for damages regardless if the person was trespassing. For example, a teen from New Jersey lost his leg when he unlawfully entered a construction site in a busy shopping center. 

He claimed that the door wasn’t locked, there weren’t enough warning signs, and the key was left in a forklift’s ignition. It was an appealing situation that invited him to use the forklift. The case is now in appellate court. 

Regardless of the lawsuit outcome, security cameras may have prevented the incident and deterred the man from trespassing.

#3 Monitor outside areas to protect property and prevent crimes leading to lawsuits

“It was an accident!” Business owners rarely, if ever, intend harm. But if found liable for negligence, they may be held responsible for damages in what is called a premise liability case. 

This type of suit occurs if business owners are aware their forgetfulness or oversight may injure someone, but no action was taken to prevent injuries, and someone was hurt. A premise liability suit may also be filed by a trespasser. If a trespasser can prove an owner wanted to cause harm, they may be able to sue. 

The definition of trespassing varies by state. Documenting the meaning of trespassing in your state is essential because it determines the standard by which a property owner could be held liable for injuries. 

Generally if a person is trespassing, the owner’s only responsibility is not to cause injuries on purpose. The legal standard for “on purpose” is defined in more detail by studying willful and wanton conduct.

#4 Proves concern for safety

Even if a property has locks, gates, and warning signs, an owner’s intentions may be questioned if an injury occurs and a lawyer gets involved. They may ask the following question:

“Were you (the property owner) intentionally creating a situation where someone would get hurt?”

Willful and wanton conduct prevents property owners from being able to ignore intentionally injuring visitors or setting up a scenario where the injury was probably going to occur. 

Just because cameras are mounted, signs posted, and fences are erected, business owners still do not have the right to injure trespassers. Willful and wanton conduct protects legal and illegal parties from harm. An easy way to prove concern is to monitor the area and invest in security equipment and precautions that prevent injury for all visitors, whether trespassing or not.

#5 Look out for child safety

Kids deserve protection, extra attention, and concern when it comes to commercial and business safety measures. Therefore, it is essential for business owners and property managers to understand the attractive nuisance doctrine. It’s all about protecting the kids.

The attractive nuisance doctrine covers the problematic issue for property owners of children who may accidentally trespass onto a property and get hurt. The attractive nuisance doctrine is based on the assumption that children will wander onto the property and ignore warning signs. They do not hold the same level of responsibility as an adult who trespasses and may be able to sue for damages if the property is not kept safe.

Examples of attractive nuisances include public swimming pools or horse pastures. Construction sites can also be attractive nuisances. 

Tragedy can occur in an instant. A child can easily wander into an unfinished construction project and fall into a hole. Kids could also be enticed to operate and be severely injured by idle heavy equipment. They could also be bitten or kicked by a horse in a neighboring pasture or fall into and accidentally drown in a pool.

Commercial security cameras instantly alert owners of unauthorized access. Custom alerts can be set up to watch for children. In an instant, an alarm can scare off trespassers or make a kid turn around. Mobile security solutions may also have the ability to talk live to the child to protect them from potential harm. Advanced technology security solutions can not only prevent lawsuits, they can save lives.

#6 Proves adequate security

Business owners are required to provide adequate security and effective security measures. These may include cameras, locks, alarms, lighting, or a security guard to keep people safe. If an injury happens because of a crack in a sidewalk that was not lit appropriately, a person may have a legal right to sue.

The responsibility to provide adequate security at a business is higher than that of a homeowner. A homeowner isn’t required to have a security guard because the risk to visitors is low. Still, for a concert venue managing thousands of people, security guards are needed to make sure people are in their designated seats to avoid overcrowding and help guests follow proper procedures in case of an emergency.

Business owners are required to provide adequate security to any area the public may access.

Poor security includes inadequate lighting, broken locks or missing locks blocking dangerous areas, no security cameras or not enough security cameras or security guards, broken sprinklers, damaged or missing railings, or failure to maintain alarms. 

Losing track of little details like improper lighting cost the Dodgers Organization big. They were ordered to pay $13.9 million in damages to an assaulted man in 2011. The organization was held liable in part because of poor lighting. As a result, he suffered from a severe brain injury and was disabled.

The good news is that in some states, adequate security is easily proven by taking simple steps. In Florida, for example, liability claims can be prevented by installing a security camera system, displaying a sign the register contains less than $50, and using a drop safe. Owners should check regulations in their state of operation.

#7 Decreases property damage liability insurance risk

If damage occurs to property, property damage liability insurance will pay for repairs and legal costs if sued. All businesses should have property damage liability insurance. 

Commercial property insurance is an additional policy that helps pay for repairs at the business’s physical location and any equipment damage or loss that may have occurred. It covers both leased and owned tools and machines. 

With solid insurance in place, the next step to decrease property damage liability insurance risk is install video monitoring as a tool to help prove who is responsible. Commercial security cameras can protect business owners against false claims and erroneous lawsuits brought to damage reputations and the bottom line.

Not all security cameras are created equal. A good remote security solution should provide intelligent monitoring day and night with clear video and the ability to identify and zoom in on suspicious persons or vehicles. Cameras should watch for vandalism, theft, trespassing, or any other unusual activities from any location to prevent property damage. A trained video surveillance operator or owner can keep a watchful eye over the property with HD cameras and additional lighting and deploy alerts to scare unauthorized visitors away. 

Preventing property damage with security camera monitoring or a CCTV security system is important because it can halt business and take months to repair. Dealing with lawsuits adds to the headaches of an already damaging situation. 

General liability insurance, commercial property insurance, and knowing the law work together to protect a business from being sued in a trespasser liability case. More importantly, taking action to install commercial security cameras helps keep employees, customers, and visitors safe. 

Arm your business with the best tool to provide evidence in the event of a trespasser liability lawsuit: commercial security cameras. Prove you’ve provided adequate security and watch for trespassers.

Contact LVT for a demo today.

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