Schemery Zicolello

Adequate security measures and business negligence

When people are in public, they likely feel relatively safe. With crowds of people around, people may feel immune from random acts of violence, theft or other criminal acts. Despite these feelings, criminals can -- and do -- strike at any place, at any time.

When people fall victim to criminal behavior on another person's property, the victims can feel isolated and upset. They may not know where to turn in order to get help.

People in this situation should know that businesses and other public places can -- in some situations -- be held responsible for inadequate security. Under premises liability laws, businesses are responsible for keeping invitees safe from foreseeable harm. This includes foreseeable criminal activity.

Generally, under these laws, businesses are responsible for determining if criminal behavior is foreseeable. They should do this by having a solid understanding of the area where the business is located. Public places need to know their local and state criminal data, they should study crime grids and understand the common criminal behavior near the property.

Other factors that can increase the foreseeability of criminal behavior include the number of times that security or police forces have had to be called, the number of times that criminal activity has occurred on the property and whether previous crimes have been property crimes or violent crimes.

Under premises liability laws, these property owners are not able to place the blame for the crime on a third-party criminal if the crime was foreseeable. They are responsible for providing adequate security for the people that they have invited to the property. This is true even when the criminal acts intentionally.

When a place of business negligently fails to keep people safe, that business can be held liable. Victims of these crimes may be able to seek civil damages in a premises liability suit.

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