Lewis & Tompkins, P.C. | Maryland | Virginia | Washington, D.C.

Free Consultations

PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us in person, via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.

Premises liability and negligent security

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Personal Injury

Perhaps you already know that you can sometimes hold a property owner liable for your damages if you are injured due to an unsafe condition, such as a spill or a poorly-maintained staircase. Property owners have a duty to repair such hazards so as to minimize the risk of an accident that might hurt a visitor.

But what if the injury came from someone else? Can a property owner be held liable for damages after a visitor is injured by a criminal on the premises?

The answer depends on the exact circumstances of the case. In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of how the law responds to this question.

Premises liability

If you were injured because you fell on a broken step at a restaurant, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages through a lawsuit against the restaurant owner. The area of the law that makes this possible is known as premises liability.

Under premises liability law, property owners have certain duties to their visitors to repair or warn of safety hazards. The extent of their duties depends on various factors, including the reason the visitor was on the premises. For instance, a restaurant owner has a greater duty to protect their customers than to a plumber who is fixing the restaurant’s bathrooms. The store owner has very little duty toward a trespasser who wanders the restaurant’s parking lot at night.

Negligent security

Here’s where the notion of negligent security comes in: What if the trespasser is a criminal who assaults and robs a restaurant customer as she heads toward her car? Does the restaurant owner have a duty to protect customers from the safety hazard of muggings in the parking lot?

When this question comes up for a court, one of the deciding factors is the owner’s knowledge. If a reasonable owner knew there was a history of muggings in their parking lot, they would take steps to protect their customers. This might mean installing lights in the parking lot, or just putting up warning signs for customers.

Still, the outcome of this type of case depends heavily on the exact details. Those who have been injured due to negligent security would be wise to discuss their case with experienced professionals.