In the past ten years, the case law on premises liability concerning negligent security has received special attention from the California Supreme Court. The current answer to the question of whether a property owner can be held liable for crimes that take place on his or her property in California is "yes, sometimes." The circumstances under which a negligent security claim would be successful against the property owner are complicated and in order to ensure a positive outcome for the plaintiff, a skilled personal injury attorney should be brought on to argue the case.
In 1993, the California Supreme Court refined its test to determine a property owner's liability for criminal acts that take place on their property. The case law was established as "The Duty to Protect Against Criminal Act" in the case Ann M. v. Pacific Plaza Shopping Center, 6 Cal.4 th 666, after a female employee of a business was raped during working hours. The court established guidelines to be used in that case and in any given case that called for determining whether a business property owner could be held responsible for third party actions on his or her property.
Prior to this case, the court had operated off of the rule that totally of circumstances determined liability, without giving heed to foreseeability of the crime due to prior incidents. In Ann . M, the court refined the rule to consider the likelihood of criminal instances with how burdensome the proposed security measures would be to protect against that threat. It became a weighing mechanism to whether the property owner had the ability or the duty to protect against a certain instance.
While this protects commercial landlords from lawsuits that do not logically pertain to them, it has made litigation in this area substantially more complicated. When a criminal is prosecuted for an act of assault, the punishment they receive does little for the injured victim except give them peace of mind. Injuries from assault and rape can be detrimental to the victim emotionally, medically and financially. For this reason, civil action is a typical option for victims, either against the assailant or another liable party, such as the property owner.
In many instances of crime, the event could have been prevented with proper security measures such as camera systems, updated alarms and security personnel. Although the court has narrowed the scope under which a plaintiff may file against a commercial landlord, there are numerous legitimate claims of negligent security that can lead to substantial compensation for the victims.
The key to a successful negligent security claim in California is to determine the legitimacy of the claim early on as to protect against dismissal and allow for enough preparation time. If you were made victim to a violent crime in Santa Clarita, you should contact a Santa Clarita personal injury attorney right away. Even if the criminal prosecution against your assailant is ongoing, you can explore your options for filing a negligent security claim against the property owner and the sooner you start the process, the better your chances are for a successful claim.
A Santa Clarita personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus will be able to examine the circumstances of your case and determine whether you have grounds for a negligent security claim. Furthermore, our attorneys will guide you through the entire process and use their experience in this area to bring about a positive outcome for you. For more information about filing a successful negligent security claim in Santa Clarita, contact The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus to speak with a member of our legal team today.