Business owners invite customers and other people onto their property when they are open for business. The business owners main job is to sell their products to the customers, but they also have a duty to keep the customers safe while on their property. This generally means making sure that the property is free of dangerous conditions which may injure the customers in a slip-and-fall type accident. However, in some situations it also means that they need to protect people from potential crimes.
If people are injured by crimes on the property, the business owner could be liable like they are liable for other premises liability lawsuits. However, in order to be liable for a negligent security claim certain requirements must be met.
Elements of a negligent security claim
There are three main elements of a negligent security claim:
- That the business owner had a legal duty to the victim, meaning that the victim was invited onto the property.
- That the crime was foreseeable – this could be that there was a specific threat made to the business or that similar crimes had occurred before either at the business or in the neighborhood.
- That under the totality of the circumstances, the business did not adequately protect the customers from the potential crime. This could be not having adequate security guards, not having proper lighting or other measures that could keep customers safe from the potential crime.
If these elements are met and the victim suffered damages as a result of the crime, the property owner may be required to compensate the victims for the damages they suffer.
While property owners in New York could be liable for the injuries, there could be defenses to the negligent security claim, such as they took the proper steps to protect against the potential crime or that a specific crime was not foreseeable. These are very fact-specific cases though and experienced attorneys may be able to guide a business through the process.