Shoppers, event attendees and visitors to a commercial location do so with the expectation that they will be reasonably safe. Sometimes an attack or other crime occurs that puts patrons in harm’s way.
While the authorities will pursue a criminal for breaking the law, a property or business owner may also bear responsibility for negligent security and be liable for damages if certain elements are present.
A crime is foreseeable
Running a business brings inherent risks. Unsavory characters may scope out the premises and try to steal cash, equipment or other valuables. When customers frequent the location to do business, a perpetrator could also intend to rob patrons or take data to steal identities.
Business or property owners can often anticipate the types of criminal acts that could occur at their locations. A civil court may determine that a crime that harmed a patron of the establishment was foreseeable by the proprietor. Such foreseeability can be because of the type of business, the location or a pattern of criminal activity in the area.
The owner permits an unreasonable risk of harm
Neighbors, tenants or law enforcement may warn a business owner about a string of thefts in the neighborhood. The proprietor may face multiple cases of vandalism or attempted break-ins.
A property owner has the duty to take reasonable steps to protect visitors from these foreseeable harms through means such as installing adequate lighting, locks or a security system. An owner who does not do so could be negligent in the eyes of the court and owe damages to an injured party after subsequent criminal activity.
Safety is a primary concern for all people as they head about daily activities. When someone’s carelessness permits an unnecessary hazard, an injured person might be able to pursue damages.