Reports of surging crime keep appearing in the news across the country, and this should give Connecticut residents a pause. In a January report that compiled FBI and Connecticut Uniform Crime Reporting statistics of the most dangerous cities in the state, Hartford topped the list, with a crime rate 81% above the national average for both violent and nonviolent crime.
When crime occurs in shopping malls, parking garages and lots, it is not simply a question of prosecuting the criminal. The property owner may bear some responsibility as well for criminal activity that occurs on their property, especially if lax security has created the conditions that lead to a crime.
When victims of crime are attempting to hold responsible parties liable for the harm done to them, they can face a daunting maze of laws or exceptions that protect the property owner. When initiating a lawsuit, it can help to have aggressive and knowledgeable legal advocacy there to assess the merits of the claim and recommend the best path forward that will give just compensation to crime victims.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a broad area of personal injury law that can include slip-and-fall accidents, swimming pool incidents and dog-bite attacks. The property owner is responsible for properly maintaining the property, whether it is an apartment building, health club, business, or even a private residence. They have a duty of care to protect a visitor from harm, even if they are trespassing in some cases.
When an injury occurs, establishing the proprietor’s liability depends on the conditions of negligence, such as:
- A fall that occurs from a hidden gap.
- Injury from slipping on ice on the steps of a hotel.
- A smoke alarm that is inoperable during a fire.
- A crime that occurs in a parking garage, at an ATM, or other areas where there is poor lighting and no security cameras.
Under Connecticut law, the property owner owes different levels of care to invitees, licensees, trespassers and trespassing children. To invitees, they owe the highest level, including the duty to:
- Inspect the premises for safety defects.
- Offer warnings of the risks of discoverable defects.
- Reveal conditions that are obvious in daylight but concealed at night.
What if there was inadequate security?
Proprietors who do not maintain safe conditions for guests on their property can argue that they are limited in their ability to provide such safety. However, a condition of negligence may be present if a business does not take standard security measures in and around the premises, including:
- Security cameras
- Adequate lighting
- Security alarms
- Standard safety protocols
In a successful claim, the plaintiff must show that the property owner failed in their duty of care to the injure party, due to negligence in providing adequate safety or security to prevent a crime from occurring.