Premises Liability and Crime Victims
If you are a victim of a crime, you may be able to receive compensation for the injuries you sustained that were committed on another person’s property. It’s important for you to have the ability to show the elements of the case.
In many states, the type of care that the property owner must show depends upon the status of the plaintiff. There are generally three categories of guests:
A trespasser is someone who enters the property without the property owner’s consent. Since a trespasser has no right to be on the property; the least duty of care is owed. Some courts have held that a trespasser who is injured on the property as the result of a third-party crime has no cause of action due to this characteristic.
A licensee is someone who has a legal right to be on the property and may have the owner’s consent to be on the property. This may be a social guest. Some jurisdictions separate licensees into different subcategories, such as invited licensees and uninvited licensees. These individuals usually come onto the property for their own purposes. The duty owed to these individuals is usually to warn them against known dangers that are not obvious to them to prevent injury.
An invitee is someone who the property owner invites onto the property. This is usually for the economic gain or other benefit of the owner, such as a customer in a store. Due to the owner’s benefit of having such visitors on his or her property, these individuals are often owed the greatest duty of care.
Property owners owe invitees the highest standard of care, which usually includes warning the invitee of dangers of which the property owner is aware but that the invitee is not aware of. Because the invitee is owed the highest degree of care, premises liability plaintiffs usually expend much time establishing that they should be classified as invitees.
In addition to the status of the person injured on the property, another question that is commonly asked is whether the injury was foreseeable. The foreseeable nature of the crime is often a matter of assessing the particular facts involved in the case. The plaintiff may argue that the crime was foreseeable if the business is located in a high-crime area or if a similar event had happened at the business.
If crime victims show that the property owner is liable for the injuries, they can seek damages for their medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and pain and suffering. Premises liability cases should be handled by a personal injury law firm like Sumner Law Group because of the complex nature of these particular cases.