When something like theft or vandalism occurs in Essex, Massachusetts, authorities work hard to determine who committed the crime. There are instances, however, where liability for criminal activity can fall not only on perpetrating parties but also on property owners and/or managers. If you or a loved one were the victim of a crime, it is important to understand when and how premises liability may apply to your case.
The National Institute of Justice discusses the complex relationship between criminal law and premises liability tort, and explains that the two are becoming increasingly interconnected. Victims of crime in several high-profile cases have successfully held property owners and managers liable for their injuries and losses, setting precedents for other cases. While common law guidelines traditionally functioned on the assumption that one person cannot be held liable for the wrongdoing of a third party, civil tort law has evolved to recognize property owners’ obligation to ensure that their premises for reasonably safe for guests.
In the event that there is evidence to suggest that a property owner contributed to criminal activity by failing to provide reasonable security and/or other safety precautions, victims of crime may be able to pursue premises liability claims. For instance, you could potentially pursue claims against a store owner if you were assaulted on his or her property and it is determined that: similar crimes occurred in the store before, necessary security measures were not taken and/or other forms of negligence on the part of management contributed to the likelihood of criminal activity continuing on the premises.
It is important to remember, however, that the specific circumstances surrounding your case would determine whether or not premises liability concerns are valid. Therefore, the information provided here cannot serve as legal advice.