How Alarm Companies Can Protect Themselves From Potential Litigation
Neglecting to arm your company against liability presents too much of a risk to all that is at stake.
No one can predict when an intrusion will occur and the same holds true for a fire or carbon monoxide emergency. That’s why a core fundamental of operating an alarm company is always making sure that your employees are properly trained and supervised. Furthermore, it is also critically important that each security system you design, install, program, service, inspect, takeover, maintain and monitor complies with the equipment manufacturer’s specifications, UL standards, NFPA standards and nationally recognized industry standards and practices.
The propensity for litigation will be high if:
1. You fail to meet one or more of the above referenced duties,
2. It is determined to be a proximate cause of the damages sustained, or
3. The fact pattern demonstrates that your actions and inactions were reckless, negligent, grossly negligent, deceptive or a combination of one or more of same.
At the same time, if the alarm system works during and/or as a result of a loss, that does not necessarily insulate your company from liability as there still may be a theory of liability which can be alleged against your company in a lawsuit. While a contract cannot be expected to legally protect your company each time there is a loss, in many situations they do and have helped alarm companies minimize their liability for decades. With that in mind, specialized contracts for the alarm and system integration industries need to be in place for each of your subscribers. Similarly, notice of cancellation, service and maintenance, GPS monitoring, access control, elevator monitoring, computer consulting, CCTV video surveillance, sub-contractor agreements, completion certificates, service orders and the like also need to addressed and prepared by a lawyer who specializes in this area of the law.
One resource to help with your legal needs is legal alarm industry expert Kenneth Kirshenbaum of Kirschenbaum and Kirschenbaum. Kirshenbaum, an SSI Hall of Famer and columnist, has been supplying all types of specialized contracts and documentation nationally to both the alarm, low voltage, system integration and other low voltage industries since 1977, and has been a driving force in helping to protect our industry from litigated cases and claims.
I trust that you will take these recommendations seriously. Not being prepared is preparing to fail, and there is just too much at stake.
Bio: Jeffrey D. Zwirn, CPP, CFPS, CFE, FACFEI, CHS-IV, SET, CCI, MBAT, is president of Tenafly, N.J.-based IDS Research and Development, Inc., which provides expert forensic, consultation and training services across the country. He has over 40 years of specialized expertise in security and alarm systems, and is an active 18-year designated expert instructor to the New York City Police Department [NYPD].
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