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If You Are Attacked at a Place of Business, Who Is Liable?

Posted on January 18, 2023 in Premises Liability

The last thing you might expect when visiting a place of business is to be attacked by a person or animal. However, these incidents of violence can occur when a property owner fails to implement proper security measures for customers and visitors. Find who may be liable, or financially responsible, if you get attacked at a place of business in California.

Holding the Attacker Liable

The obvious choice of liable party after being attacked by someone is the attacker or criminal. However, this is not always possible or in the best interest of the victim. If the police do not know who attacked you and have not made an arrest, the offender is unavailable to respond to a personal injury claim. If you know who attacked you, the individual may not have enough insurance to adequately pay for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. Holding a business or property owner liable could result in greater compensation.

When Is a Business Responsible for Acts of Violence?

In California, all property owners have a responsibility to ensure the reasonable safety of their premises. They must abide by certain duties of care to meet this requirement, including checking a premises for potential hazards, repairing any defects and posting warning signs concerning injury risks. These are the duties of care owed to all invitees, including customers at a business.

Keeping a premises secure and preventing foreseeable crimes are also responsibilities given to a business owner in California. It is the company’s responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent crimes and acts of violence, such as looking into the location’s history of crime to determine if security measures need to be implemented. Failing to do so is referred to as negligent security.

Adequate security measures may include a fence or barrier, a security guard, cameras, floodlights, sturdy locks on doors, and an alarm system. If a reasonable and prudent business owner would have done more to provide adequate security and prevent the attack, the owner of a business where a crime takes place could be held liable for the incident.

Filing a Claim for Negligent Security

If a customer gets attacked, assaulted, robbed or mugged at a place of business in California, he or she may be able to sue the business for damages through a premises liability lawsuit. This type of lawsuit aims to prove that the owner of the business fell short of his or her duty of care to keep the premises reasonably safe for customers and visitors by failing to provide adequate security.

The security measures that a business owner should enact depend on the property’s history and the type of business. Places such as pawn shops, bars, banks and casinos, for example, may need more security than others. An investigation into the history of crime at the business and what measures the owner took to keep customers safe can determine if the owner was guilty of negligent security.

Compensation for Violence in the Workplace

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 97 workers in California died from acts of violence in 2020. Hundreds of other workers were injured. If you were attacked at a place of business as an employee, you may still have the right to file a lawsuit. You could receive workers’ compensation benefits, for example, without having to prove that your employer is at fault or guilty of negligent security. If you do have proof that your employer reasonably should have done more to keep you safe from violent coworkers, strangers or animals, you could file a personal injury lawsuit instead.

A business owner can often be held liable for attacks and other crimes committed against visitors on their premises in California. If you get attacked at a place of business, contact the attorneys at Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP for a free case consultation.