How to File for Inadequate Security under Premises Liability Lawby Rodney Mesriani (Mesriani Law Group)
In tort law, premises liability refers to the legal responsibility of property owners for accidents that occur on their property due to unsafe conditions.
While premises liability is often associated with slip and fall accidents, negligent maintenance, or dangerous conditions on the property such as missing handrail or broken trees, the liability of property owners have evolved to include cases where a person is injured on the premises of another by a third person’s wrongful act or inadequate security.
Inadequate security under premises liability law is best exemplified in the case of Lai Chau v. Southstar Equity Limited Co. and Brookside Properties Inc.
In the case of Chau, a university student was shot 3 times in the head in her apartment complex in 2001. She sued Southstar Equity, LLC, and Brookside Properties, Inc. who owned the apartment complex for premises liability and claimed that the company failed to provide adequate security against reasonably foreseeable criminal acts and was even misled and told that there was no problems with crime despite the high level of criminal activity in the area.
Employees at the company further testified that the management failed to respond to concerns about security on the premises and were even told to tell prospective tenants that there was no crime in the area.
The jury awarded Chau compensatory damages worth $5,677,000, and punitive damages were also against Southstar for $3,000,000 and Brookside for $7,000,000.
But proving negligence on the part of the property owner isn’t that easy, even if there is reasonable ground to believe that they were negligent if a third party can be established as the proximate cause of the damage or injury suffered by the plaintiff.
For premises liability to attach to an owner of the property, the following elements must be present in the case:
• The property or land is owned or possessed by the defendant
• The victim must be an invitee (These are persons who are invited upon the premises in order to conduct business with the possessor) or a licensee (Those who are a person who are present for a non-commercial, non-business purpose at the consent of the possessor of the property, such as guests). Trespassers are generally not covered under premises liability.
• The property owner or possessor owed the injured party a duty of care
• The property owner or possessor breached that duty of care
Negligence is a very important factor in premises liability claims so following the precedent set by Chau’s case, it must be proved that the legal issues of duty and causation of injury were breached by the property owner. A personal injury lawyer or a premises liability attorney would be the best person to consult in the event of an injury or death caused by inadequate security on the premises of another.