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A Property Owner’s Responsibility

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Security and Your Rights

You hear about it in the news – someone is robbed, mugged, attacked. They could receive a few scratches or be very seriously injured. Obviously the attacker is responsible. But who else is at least partially responsible? Possibly the property owner. These crimes are typically committed in parking lots, at apartment complexes, in stores or other retail establishments, and other “public” places. So if this happened to your loved one, what are their rights?

When someone is a victim of a mugging or any type of physical attack, they deserve to be compensated for their injuries and losses. Most likely, the criminal who committed the attack does not have the finances to compensate the victim. In cases like this, victims hire personal injury attorneys to investigate the incident and determine if the property owner can be held accountable. How?

The owners and managers of a property – any type of property – have a responsibility (and moral obligation) to keep that property safe. To ensure that it is free from unsafe conditions. This doesn’t just mean that the property owner must remove tripping hazards or make sure there are no dangerous items like a faulty elevator, broken handrail or uneven pavement.

It also means that they must keep the property safe from criminal activity.

Property owners/managers have to determine what level of security is necessary for their area, their business, their street. Not all property owners take this responsibility seriously, and so you have a lack of concern for the public – a LACK OF SECURITY.

When someone is attacked and harmed on someone else’s property, and they file a lawsuit, this is called a negligent security case. You’ll find these types of cases typically involve hotels, shopping malls, stores, apartment communities and other places with frequent public traffic.

The personal injury attorney will examine every aspect of the physical property itself, and the location. They establish the likelihood of an attack happening based on the area surrounding the property and the knowledge that the property owner had. In what is called the discovery phase, the lawyer will request that the property owner provide records showing any past incidents, as well as any proof that security measures were taken. If there has been any kind of attack on or near the property in the past year or two, it supports the negligent security argument.

Once it has been established that security was needed at this property, the challenge for the court is to then establish: “how much security was enough?” Were the security measures that were in place (if any) enough to meet the property owner’s responsibility to maintain a safe environment. Maybe the area around the property was far too dark, and better lighting was needed. Maybe a security guard should have been hired because there had been a previous incident. Maybe cameras should have been installed. Often just one of these steps could have prevented a crime.

Negligent security cases fall under the legal umbrella of premises liability. This is the same type of law that makes property owners accountable and responsible when someone has a slip and fall injury. The bottom line is that, if safety measures were not taken and someone is hurt, the owner of the property can often be held responsible, and their insurance helps to compensate the victim for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. It always pays to check with a personal injury law firm to determine if premises liability and/or negligent security are a legitimate claim in an injury case.


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