An unfortunate side effect of the holiday season is that the increase in the number of people shopping at retail establishments and on the road traveling makes it a busy season for criminals. While the overall aggregate crime statistics tend to remain largely the same over the holiday season, property and retail crime tends to jump between Thanksgiving and New Years as more people are out at the stores doing their holiday shopping. Between automotive burglaries and robberies, it can be a dangerous time of the year to be at the mall.
While your best course of action is to be vigilant in ensuring your own safety while you are out and about this year, if you have been the victim of a crime while you were on the premises of a business you may have the ability to recover from the business for your injuries or losses.
Negligent Security Claims
Negligent security claims arise out of premises liability laws: the owner and/or operator of a facility has the duty to maintain their property in a way that prevents unreasonable harm to their visitors. The courts have held that this also includes a requirement to prevent the reasonably foreseeable criminal acts of third parties. Examples of this are most often seen in violent or property crime that occurs at hotels and retail establishments.
Factors In Premises Liability
To be able to recover for damages in a premises liability case, a plaintiff must be able to prove several things: first, that a dangerous condition existed; second, that the owner or operator of the facility knew, or should have known that it existed; third, that they failed to take steps to rectify the condition; and finally, that their failure to fix the dangerous condition led to the plaintiff’s injury or loss. When the dangerous condition is something that involves the criminal acts of a third party, the owner or operator’s knowledge that a crime was likely to occur often becomes the major issue on which the outcome of a case hinges. A plaintiff will have to show that considering the particulars of the situation, a reasonable person would believe that the sort of crime that occurred was likely to occur, and because of that the owner or operator of the facility should have taken steps to prevent it happening. When deciding if a crime occurring was a foreseeable event, courts will look at three additional factors:
- The nature of the business;
- Crime statistics, for both the particular type of business and for the area at large; and
- The location of the business, and the environment of the surrounding area.
While these factors are generally straightforward, different jurisdictions weigh and consider them differently, even within the same state, or in neighboring jurisdictions, and which court your case will be heard in can drastically affect its eventual outcome.
Consult a Personal Injury Attorney
Premises liability claims can be a complex area of the law to litigate. If you have suffered an injury, or the damage or loss of your property this holiday season due to a business’ failure to provide proper security, it is in your best interests to discuss your potential case with an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney as soon as possible.