Property owners must take steps to ensure that their property is reasonably safe for visitors. When they fail to take these steps, property owners can be held liable for injuries sustained as a result of their negligence. The duty to make their property safe for visitors also requires property owners to offer reasonable security measures that will protect visitors from foreseeable crimes committed by third parties. This means that in situations where a crime could have been prevented if a property owner had taken reasonable security measures, such as installing security cameras or placing lights in stairwells, the injured party may be eligible to collect compensation from the property owner by filing a negligent security claim. It can be difficult to determine what steps a property owner is required to take to satisfy the burden of reasonable security measures, so if you were the victim of a crime that took place on someone else’s property, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you.
In order to prevail on a claim of negligent security, a plaintiff must provide evidence that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care to:
- Discover similar prior criminal activities; or
- Warn visitors of the potential dangers.
Injured parties will also need to demonstrate that:
- They were lawfully present on the defendant’s property;
- The defendant breached its duty to ensure that its property was reasonably secure;
- The plaintiff was injured by a third party in a manner that was reasonably foreseeable to the property owner;
- The plaintiff would not have been the victim of a crime, but for the property owner’s failure to fulfill its duty; and
- The plaintiff suffered an actual injury.
In determining whether a certain kind of crime was foreseeable, courts usually look at a few different case-specific factors, including:
- Whether anyone had been harmed on the premises in a similar incident;
- The neighborhood’s crime rate;
- What kinds of crimes have historically been committed in a certain area;
- How frequently law enforcement has been called to the property on prior occasions;
- The proximity in time of the prior crimes to the incident in question; and
- Whether the nature of the business increases the likelihood that a third party will be harmed.
If some or all of these factors indicate that certain crimes are particularly likely in an area, a property owner may be required to take reasonable steps to provide adequate security and so prevent crimes against tenants and customers by:
- Installing safety lighting;
- Using motion sensor-controlled lights;
- Hiring security guards;
- Installing an alarm system;
- Placing new locks on gates and doors;
- Installing fencing around the property;
- Installing security cameras; and
- Screening visitors.
A property owner who fails to take these precautionary measures may be required to compensate injured parties for medical expenses and pain and suffering, scarring, disfigurement, loss of past income and loss of future earning capacity.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you were the victim of a crime on someone else’s property, please call van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin at 215-515-6892 to speak with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney about your case. We are happy to help you today.