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Who is responsible if you are injured during a crime?

In California, property owners have duties to provide safe conditions to people who are on their properties, whether they are visiting, living or working on the premises. These "premises liability" requirements include reasonable safeguards against slips and falls, dog bites, trips and falls and construction accidents.

When injuries happen during criminal acts

A less well-known aspect of premises liability includes the responsibility of a property owner or manager to protect people from criminal acts committed on the premises. This means that if you were the victim of a crime while on the property of another, you may be able to hold the owners of that property financially responsible for your losses, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and future earnings
  • Pain and suffering

California premises liability law

Consider the Pulse nightclub attack last year, in which a gunman killed nearly 50 people during a dance party. Historically, bars and nightclubs were not responsible for criminal acts of others. However, more recent California court cases decided that establishments are legally obligated to provide safety measures for their patrons when there is knowledge of previous criminal activity at that location.

For example, if you frequent a business that is located in an area in which criminal activity is high and previous visitors have been the targets of criminal activity, the owner of the property may be responsible if you are harmed.

Property-owner responsibilities to patrons

The property owner's duty to protect you and other visitors against a reasonably foreseeable crime on their premises may involve taking certain precautions, such as:

  • Hiring security personnel
  • Modifying operating hours
  • Trimming foliage to allow clear lines of sight
  • Installing anti-crime light fixtures
  • Restricting street access to the premises
  • Installing security cameras

Proving your case

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a crime while on the property of another, you may have the right to compensation. Contact a personal injury attorney for help proving that a property owner is liable (responsible) for your injuries. A lawyer from the law firm of Rosenthal & Kreeger, LLP, can help.

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