Over the last several decades, security cameras have become so commonplace that we expect to see them everywhere. This is something our Boston negligent security lawyers know very well.
Some may insist that security cameras are everywhere because of “Big Brother” or “the surveillance state,” but there’s a far more pragmatic reason why so many retailers, hotels, and parking garages use security cameras. The owners are protecting themselves from lawsuits.
Boston residents and visitors to the area are victimized by crime every day. Many of these crimes – along with the personal injuries that crime victims sometimes sustain – might not have occurred if property owners had taken the initiative to provide suitable security measures.
WHAT OBLIGATION TO OTHERS DO PROPERTY OWNERS HAVE?
Property owners in Massachusetts are legally obligated to take “reasonable” steps to keep visitors safe from harm – including harm arising from crimes like robbery and battery.
Property owners who neglect to take adequate safety measures or to inform visitors about potentially hazardous conditions may be held liable for their negligence.
If you are injured by criminal behavior on private property in Massachusetts because a property owner failed to provide adequate lighting, security cameras, or a security guard, discuss your rights and options immediately with a qualified premises liability attorney.
WHEN IS A PROPERTY OWNER LIABLE FOR A VISITOR’S INJURIES?
When the conditions at a private property cause someone to be injured, the property owner may be held liable for the monetary losses associated with those injuries. This is the first principle of premises liability law.
If a person is injured on private property, the injury victim may file a premises liability claim to seek compensation from the property owner.
Negligent security might be considered a subcategory of premises liability. Along with injuries caused by slippery floors and potholes in the parking lot, property owners can also be held accountable in some cases for injuries caused by acts of crime and violence.
WHAT KIND OF SECURITY SHOULD PROPERTY OWNERS PROVIDE?
How important is security? Businesses advertise it. Condominium communities emphasize security in sales materials; retailers brag about well-lit parking lots, and fans at sports events and concerts want to know that security personnel will be there.
You’re not required to have security guards protect your visitors at your home, but security is needed at shopping malls, parking garages, and other locations where crimes are predictably likely to happen. Insufficient security may include:
• poor lighting and visibility in parking lots, garages, stairwells, and hallways
• broken or defective locks
• a lack of adequate security guards or security cameras
• a failure to install and maintain sprinklers, railings, and other security measures
A security issue can arise almost anywhere that the public has access: arenas, stadiums, shopping malls, apartment complexes, hotels, restaurants, theaters, amusement parks, garages, and parking lots. If a property owner fails to maintain reasonably safe premises, the results can be disastrous.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF THERE’S NO SECURITY AT A PUBLIC VENUE?
When a man named Brian Stow was beaten by assailants in the poorly-lit parking lot at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 2011, he sustained serious brain injuries and is now permanently disabled. The Los Angeles Dodgers were subsequently ordered to pay Mr. Stow $13.9 million.
When someone is battered, mugged, assaulted, or injured by crime in some other way on private property, the injury victim may file a premises liability claim against the property owner.
If a victim’s injury was caused by a criminal, and even if a perpetrator is never taken into custody, a property owner may be held accountable for failing to take appropriate and reasonable security measures.
WHO QUALIFIES TO FILE A PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIM?
If you’ve been assaulted, injured, or harmed in any way on another party’s property, these three factors will determine if you qualify to pursue a premises liability claim:
1. The property owner failed to meet a legal obligation to maintain the property. If there were insufficient warnings about a possibly hazardous situation, and if you were injured as a result, you probably have a premises liability claim.
2. You sustained damages or injuries in the incident, and you’re able to prove it.
3. The owner’s negligence contributed to your injury or injuries. For instance, if a property owner fails to install sufficient lighting in a parking lot or garage, and if you become a robbery victim because you could not see your attacker, you probably have a claim.
HOW DO PROPERTY OWNERS DEFEND AGAINST LIABILITY CLAIMS?
Of course, if you’re injured on private property during the commission of a crime, and if you subsequently take legal action against the property owner, that owner may claim that the responsibility for your injury was yours – and may offer one of these assertions as a defense:
1. The victim was not paying attention to his or her surroundings.
2. The victim was injured while trespassing or was injured in a restricted area.
3. A “reasonable” person would have avoided an area that was clearly dangerous.
HOW ARE MOST PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS RESOLVED?
Premises liability cases can get complicated. An experienced Boston premises liability attorney can assess the facts in your case and recommend the best way for you to move forward.
The majority of premises liability cases in Massachusetts are settled in private, out-of-court negotiations that conclude before any courtroom trial can commence.
If your case cannot be privately resolved, your lawyer may recommend taking the case to trial and asking a jury to determine if the property owner has any liability for your personal injury or injuries.
IS THERE A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIMS?
If you are injured on someone else’s private property in Massachusetts, get medical treatment immediately. After you’ve been examined by a medical professional, speak promptly with a Massachusetts premises liability lawyer.
The statute of limitations is three years in this state for premises liability cases. In most cases, that three-year period starts on the day you sustain the injury. However, if you sustained a hard-to-find or latent injury, the three-year period may not begin until the discovery date of the injury.
But you must not wait three years – or even three weeks – to seek an attorney’s help. If you’ve been injured because a property owner failed to provide adequate security, get medical treatment, and then let a premises liability lawyer explain your legal rights and options.
If you have been injured in this state because another person was negligent, you are entitled by law to full compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and all of your related losses and damages. A good attorney’s help in these cases is your right, and your future could depend on it.
Eric J. Parker, the Managing Partner of Parker Scheer LLP, has over 30 years’ experience representing victims in complex personal injury cases. He is active in many legal associations and has won many awards for performance and principles. Eric believes in giving back to the community and supports young scholars and law students by acting as faculty and mentor to them.