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Can I File a Premises Liability Suit if I’ve Been the Victim of a Crime?

Premises liability is a kind of civil lawsuit where you sue a property owner after being injured on their property. Typically, successful premises liability cases prove that the property owner’s negligence created a dangerous environment, directly causing your injury. The logic behind these cases is that if the property owner had done their job, you would not have gotten hurt.

When you are victimized on someone else’s property, premises liability claims become murkier. Certainly, the person who harmed you is directly responsible for the damage they caused. What responsibility, then, does the property owner have in keeping you safe?

If a crime happened on a private residence, it is unlikely that the homeowner is responsible for keeping you safe. In that case, they are likely victims of the crime as well. If the neighborhood was in a high crime area, you took the risk when you visited their home, the same risk they take daily. Chances are, most homeowners can’t afford a security team, so they are left with the same alarms, cameras, and detection systems as anyone else. They do not, however, have a direct obligation to install such systems for your sake. If they do have home security systems, it is likely for their own protection.

Business owners, on the other hand, are responsible for your safety. In legal terms, when you enter a business as a customer or client, you are an “invitee.” Invitees are the very reason for the business’s existence, so they are afforded the highest standard of care. Security is a direct part of keeping a business safe for its customers. If businesses provide poor security, they can be sued if you are victimized on their property.

Businesses Must Provide Good Security

A business must have a patrolling security officer during business hours. Business property needs proper lighting and a clear view of the surrounding area. Gates, locks, and other “passive security” measures should be employed, and managers need a tight record of who has access to keys and other entry methods.

Foreseeability

Business owners have a responsibility to think ahead, anticipating when they will need extra security. This is called “foreseeability.” Without question, there are random acts that no one could predict. A store that has been in the same neighborhood for decades without incident can suddenly be robbed. In cases like this, it’s hard to hold the owner or manager accountable for bad security.

When a crime suddenly occurs, the business owner must amplify their security. Surrounding businesses have the same responsibility. If a crime happened across the street from a store, it can easily happen to them too. Timing is a crucial aspect of foreseeability. When a crime happens, businesses must be aware and responsive.

The nature of the crime affects foreseeability as well. In an area that experiences increased gang activity, business security should be vigilant about gangs in the area. If a group of teens wearing “colors” enters their establishment, they should be proactive and keep a close eye on the gang’s activity. This means that if you were victimized in an unrelated crime – perhaps your car was stolen – it will be harder to accuse the property manager of poor security.

Speaking to an Attorney

If you’ve been the victim of a crime on business property, speak to a lawyer. It may be possible to sue the perpetrator of the crime, even if they have already been convicted. Instead of suing them for negligence, you may be able to sue them for a “tort,” which is an intentionally damaging act.

Also, ask your lawyer to investigate the facts of your case and see if the business owner was negligent. Was their security up to par? Was the crime something the business owner could have anticipated? If so, you may have grounds to sue in a premises liability case, recovering damages for your injuries.

Call us today if you’ve been victimized on business property. We have the skill and experience to investigate your case, and we can help seek damages for your injuries. Our number is888-4-ZEN-LAW, and you can contact us online.

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