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Lawyers trolling for security premises liability cases and your need to use proper contracts
June 22,  2021
Lawyers trolling for security premises liability cases and your need to use proper contracts
          The Florida Bar magazine, directed to attorneys, has a full page ad from a law firm with the following:
          Your clients are entitled to safety and security at shopping centers, apartments, gas stations, office buildings and hotels, including parking lots/garages, and any commercial property where there is an expectation of safety.  We represent victims who have been attached, abused, injured and killed because protection failed at schools, churches, camps, cruise ships, theme parks, airports and while traveling… over $175 million in verdicts and settlements”
          Just about every lawyer reading the ad would believe that the focus of any lawsuit would be against the property owner who failed to provide the minimum legal security required.  As security professionals you know that you are equally a target. 
          Property owners rely on security companies to provide the necessary security needed.  Whether it’s intrusion alarm, cameras, fire alarm, video and audio surveillance, or posted security guards, the property owners intention is the same, to shift the property owners duty to provide protection to the security company.  Any failure to provide the protection, which necessarily means someone gets hurt, means the security company didn’t perform as the property owner expected and therefore should be responsible for any lawsuit or claim that arises.  Never mind that the property owner carries general liability insurance to protect against such injury, claim and lawsuit because the property owner’s insurance carry has the same expectation as the property owner, let’s blame the security company.
          Alarm companies are not insurance companies; they don’t insure their customers against losses.  Alarm companies are also not patsies, sitting around with their thumb you know where waiting for a claim or lawsuit, unless of course they are. 
          Question you should be asking yourself about now is, am I a patsy?  Am I going to be held responsible for my customer’s failure to prevent an injury on its property? 
          If you use the Standard Form Agreements you are no patsy.  The Standard Form Agreements make it crystal clear to your customers that you are not their insurance company, your service is to provide detection and not prevention and that you have no liability for any claim against your customer even if you are negligent in providing your services.  The contracts can only protect you if you use them and don’t alter them eliminating the protection the contracts provide. 
          If taking all precaution to protect yourself contractually isn’t enough incentive, then keep in mind that the value of your business also depends on proper contracts because potential buyers of alarm accounts do not want to assume responsibility for contract performance when the contract doesn’t have the protection for the alarm company that it should.  No one wants to take over your high risk relationship with your customer and they certainly won’t pay top dollar for the privilege. 
          Another incentive you have to making sure your contracts are up to date and providing all the contractual protection that is available to alarm dealers is that you may find that smart central stations and smart insurance companies will not be willing to do business with you; they depend on you to use proper contracts to protect not only you, but them.  Your failure to protect yourself filters down to them very quickly, exposing them to lawsuits and possible liability. 
          A proper alarm contract starts with managing the customer’s expectation.  An observant customer may, and in fact should, quickly discern that the alarm company is disavowing responsibility and liability for the very losses the customer thinks it is engaging the alarm company to prevent.  There are many contract provisions that address this expectation, in legal as well as non-legal terms.  The scope of duty and legal consequence of the relationship should be worded in the contract so as to be clearly understood by any customer of normal intelligence.  I know many of you doubt it, but they are out there. 

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301