Premises liability laws focus on a property owner or renter’s duty to care for visitors. Common examples of premises liability cases in California focus on slip-and-fall accidents or other common hazards resulting from neglect. Owners have duties that extend beyond keeping a yard and living room free of trip hazards. A “duty to care” may extend to protecting visitors from violent crime or other illegal activities that may lead to injury.
Negligent security and premises liability
“Negligent security” often involves a preventable lapse in care by a responsible party that leads to someone becoming a victim of crime. For example, suppose a customer in a convenience store appears to be under the influence of drugs and behaves violently or aggressively and attacks another customer. In that case, the convenience store owner may face civil suits for resultant injuries.
Did a worker call the police when the customer acted violently? Was the particular customer known for dangerous behavior and still allowed in the store? Affirmative answers to these questions could factor into a negligence claim.
There are other forms negligent security claims could take. If an apartment complex resident suffers a violent assault, an investigation may reveal that the complex’s management knew that one entry gate’s lock didn’t work. Unfortunately, no one took steps to perform timely repairs.
Reasonable security measures and negligence
Property owners and tenants could face negligent security claims when they should possess reasonable expectations of criminal threats. Banks, for example, run the risk of being targets for robberies. Therefore, banks might need to take additional steps to ensure the security of customers. Shopping mall owners may be liable if violent crimes continue to occur in parking lots and no steps take place to address the issue.
When a burglar breaks into a home, the homeowner may or may not be responsible for a guest’s injuries, depending on the circumstances. In an area not known for break-ins, the homeowner might not have any reasonable expectations that a crime could occur. Directing questions about security-related premises liability to a personal injury attorney could be helpful for a victim.