California law requires property owners to take specific actions to keep their property safe for others.
But does the law require owners to maintain security on their property to protect visitors from crime? Sometimes.
In some cases, a landowner can be held liable for crimes others commit while on the owner’s premises.
However, holding a property owner legally accountable for inadequate security after you suffer injury from criminal activity is challenging without the help of a negligent security lawyer.
At Starpoint Law, our experienced negligent security lawyers regularly and successfully handle complex issues for our clients.
We provide personal service and aggressive representation to each of our clients to help them win the compensation and care they deserve.
What Is Negligence?
In a standard negligence case, you have to prove the following:
- The defendant had a duty to protect you from harm,
- The defendant breached their duty to protect you,
- You suffered an injury because of the defendant’s breach of their duty, and
- The damage you suffered was reasonably foreseeable.
In general, a landowner has no duty to protect you against the crimes of a third party, but there are exceptions to this principle.
When Is a Property Owner Liable for Lack of Security on Their Premises?
Landowners who are also business owners often have an obligation to protect their patrons and business guests from crime on their premises.
A business owner’s responsibility to maintain reasonable security for business guests is called the special relationship doctrine.
Businesses subject to this doctrine can include (but are not limited to):
- Retailers, and
- Apartment complexes.
The businesses listed above are just some of the businesses that can be obligated to protect patrons from crime.
Wherever you were and however your injury occurred, speak to an experienced attorney about your options for recouping your damages.
When Does the Special Relationship Doctrine Apply?
Many factors must be present under the special relationship doctrine to give a plaintiff rights against a property owner in court.
Under the special relationship doctrine, California courts are more inclined to hold the owner of property liable for a third party’s crime if the crime was foreseeable and the burden of providing security to prevent it was not too great.
As the foreseeability of crime goes up, a landowner is expected to take greater measures to protect their guests.
How Do You Prove that a Property Owner Is Liable?
To hold an owner accountable, you often need to prove not only that crimes have been committed on the owner’s property in the past but also that:
- The crimes committed in the past were similar to the crime that caused you harm and
- The property owner had notice of the past crimes.
Proving that there were other reports of similar criminal activity on an owner’s property can require a lot of investigation and legal expertise.
A negligent security attorney can investigate and review the facts surrounding your case to help ensure that all parties responsible for your injuries pay for your damages.
Damages You Can Recover in a Negligent Security Case
If you are harmed in a criminal attack, you do not always have to depend on crime victim restitution alone to cover your damages.
You have more options for seeking redress, especially if a property owner is liable for the crimes committed on their premises.
You might be able to make a claim on an owner’s insurance policy to recover damages, or you could file a legal action against the property owner for their negligence.
In a civil case for your crime-related injuries, you can recover the following from a defendant:
- Compensation for your financial losses and needs,
- Payment for your pain and suffering, and
- Exemplary damages to punish a defendant for egregious behavior.
To help prove your right to compensation, you should keep all healthcare records, receipts, invoices, police reports, personal notes, and witness information related to the incident.
Also, California law has a demanding standard for proving your right to exemplary damages.
You must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions were oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious.
An experienced personal injury attorney can maximize your recovery of all types of damages in a negligent security case.
Time Limit for Filing a Negligent Security Case
If you want to seek compensation from a landowner after a criminal causes you harm on the owner’s property, you must act quickly.
You have only two years to file a lawsuit for any personal injuries you suffer due to negligent security.
And you have only three years to file a lawsuit for any property damage that you suffer because of a landowner’s negligence.
Timing for filing a negligence case involving personal injuries and criminal activity can be tricky.
You want to make sure that you have had enough time to heal and receive treatment to accurately estimate what your future medical needs will be.
You also want to make sure that you have enough time to participate in any pending criminal cases while filing your civil case on time.
This difficult balancing act is best handled by hiring an experienced negligent security lawyer to take over your civil litigation or settlement needs.
Speak to Our Skilled Personal Injury Attorneys at Starpoint Law
At Starpoint Law, our California personal injury attorneys provide sensitive, one-on-one guidance to our clients.
We are also aggressive advocates for our clients’ rights in the courtroom and at the settlement table.
Our skilled attorneys have an impeccable track record—we have not lost a case.
If you need a lawyer who communicates with you every step of the way and can handle complex and simple cases with professionalism and competence, we are here for you.