Business Owners Must Provide Adequate Security

January 31, 2019

In Pennsylvania, premises liability principles give injured plaintiffs the right to bring a lawsuit against a property owner for failing to correct non-obvious dangerous conditions of the property (i.e., property hazards, such as broken stairs).  For example, if you trip and fall on the defendant’s stairway due to a broken step, then you could sue and recover damages as compensation.

The situation becomes a bit more complicated when the “dangerous condition of the property” is not linked to an inanimate object, but is instead linked to the negative and potentially harmful behaviors of another individual.  In many cases, businesses fail to provide adequate security to their customers, and this gives rise to significant injury risk.  Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, a lawsuit against the business owner may be possible.

So, what is the advantage of pursuing a lawsuit against the business owner?  Generally speaking, individual criminals do not have the assets or coverage to compensate the injured victim for their losses.  In order for the victim to obtain full compensation, they’ll have to establish the liability of defendants who have “deep enough pockets” to pay — here, the business owner.

Reasonable Foreseeability is the Key

Pennsylvania law does not make business owners absolute guarantors of the safety of their customers.  Liability may only attach if the business owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dangerous condition of property.  In the inadequate security context, the dangerous condition that the business owner knew or reasonably should have known about is the risk of third-party criminal harm.

If the victim can show that their injuries were reasonably foreseeable given the circumstances, then they can impose liability on the business owner for damages.  Confused?  Let’s explore these basic principles through a quick example.

Suppose that you are shopping at the defendant’s store when you are stabbed by someone who enters the store from the street and runs away.  The damages are significant.  In the ensuing litigation, you learn that the defendant’s store had several similar incidents over the past few years, with people from the street coming in and mugging customers, stabbing customers, and otherwise threatening them with violence.

Despite these known dangers, the business owner defendant did not hire additional security personnel for the store (or set up other security tools) to protect their customers.  Given the circumstances, the business owner could almost certainly be held liable.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Allentown Injury Attorney

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our team of attorneys has extensive experience representing the interests of injured persons involved in premises liability disputes, including those that center around claims of inadequate security and third-party harm.  Unlike many of our competitors, we believe in the importance of a strong attorney-client relationship.  We know that by maintaining an open and transparent communication dynamic, we can ensure that we have the information necessary to more effectively advocate on your behalf.

If you’ve been harmed due to the criminal violence of a third-party, then Pennsylvania law may give you a right of action against the property owner for failing to provide adequate security.  Speak to a skilled Allentown injury attorney for assistance.  Call 610-433-3910 or send us a case evaluation form online to request a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.