In February 2015, a terrorist group threatened to attack popular shopping malls around the United States. Wisely, Homeland Security has decided to go public with these threats to warn potential shoppers to be on guard. It is not only terrorism that holds commercial landlords liable for injuries, however. Everyday occurrences of crime, like robbery, rape, assault, and homicide require landlords to protect their customers against the likelihood of such injuries.
Even if there has not been a history of crime, such landlords must take reasonable steps to keep their customers safe from such attacks. Reasonable precautions include adequate lighting in the building and parking lots, limiting access to certain areas of the building, conducting searches of customers and employees, and proper caution signs in the case of wet surfaces, potholes, construction, or any hazard on the premises. If it is necessary, a landlord or manager may need to provide security cameras or staff to monitor potential criminals on the premises. An injured customer may bring a claim for negligent security depending on the type of business and the level of security that is expected given the nature of the business.
Whether or not a property owner will be held liable for any injury will depend on the reasonable foreseeability of the act. State laws can vary but there are some common instances that will increase the likelihood of a property owner being found liable for a customer’s injuries. First, a specific threat will be strong evidence that a landlord should have security in place to match the level of the threat. Another indicator is the history of crimes on the premises. Similar crimes are the most persuasive but other violent crimes will be indicative of the need for security. Also of note is the proximity of the business to other violent crimes in the area. If a court finds that the level of security was inadequate for the crime, the business may be liable for the injuries.
If you find yourself in such an unfortunate position it is important to call the police immediately. Request an ambulance to document your injuries. The business should have procedures for documenting these instances so it is important for property owners to have a plan before something happens. Finally, each side may need to consult an attorney for further guidance.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Your case may be different. Hiring an attorney immediately will protect your rights. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.