If you have been the victim of a crime while visiting a business or commercial establishment, or while on someone else’s property, you should learn about your legal rights. An assault or other violent attack can leave you with severe and even life-threatening injuries. You may be facing expensive medical bills, missing work, and struggling to cope with the emotional trauma. Although your attacker may ultimately be arrested and face criminal penalties, you may have the additional option of demanding justice in the form of financial compensation.
The experienced St. Louis premises liability attorneys of Sumner Law Group, LLC, can help you understand your options during this stressful time. Our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined legal experience handling cases involving people who have been the victims of crime on dangerous property. We have the legal skills to handle even the most complex premises liability cases involving third-party crime.
Contact our firm today for a free case evaluation. An attorney can help you determine whether you may have legal rights against the property or business owner after being injured by a third-party criminal act.
Property Owner’s Responsibilities
The occurrence of crime is often considered an unanticipated and unpreventable act. However, the law does impose a duty upon property owners in favor of all lawful visitors to the premises. That duty requires owners to take reasonable steps to protect lawful visitors from crime committed by a third party under these circumstances:
- A person, known by the property owner to have a violent disposition, enters the premises.
- An individual present on the premises acts in a manner that indicates he or she may present a danger to others, and the property owner has sufficient time and opportunity to prevent injury.
- The nature of the property owner’s business or past experience should give rise to a reasonable anticipation by the property owner that the criminal activity of third persons will put lawful visitors on the premises at risk of injury.
A property owner may not be held liable for an injury caused by a third-party crime where:
- The owner has implemented reasonable security measures to prevent crime or protect lawful visitors from harm caused by criminal activity.
- The criminal acts occur while the premises are closed to the public.
- The injuries are to a trespasser who is either under the influence of alcohol or drugs or attempting to commit a felony.
Difference Between Criminal and Civil Case
A criminal case involving a crime that results in your injury and a premises liability civil case arising from a third-party crime may be related to one another. However, those two cases have important factual and legal differences.
- In the criminal case, the state seeks to prove the alleged perpetrator is guilty of a crime. The charged crime may not even be related to the injury that you suffered. In addition, the state is required to prove the alleged perpetrator’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Penalties may include jail time, fines, community service, etc.
- In a premises liability civil case, you seek to hold the property or business owner accountable for the injuries you suffered due to criminal activity committed by a third party. Your claim is based on the theory that the property or business owner had a duty to protect you from criminal activity but failed to meet that duty. If you win a civil claim against a property owner, you could recover financial compensation for your injuries and related losses.
Compensation for Losses Caused by Crime
When you have been injured by criminal activity while visiting someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation from the property owner that failed to take reasonable steps to keep the premises safe. Compensation covers for losses such as:
- Costs of medical treatment, including a visit to the ER, surgeries and other medical procedures, and pain or prescription medication
- Long-term care costs, including physical rehabilitation, mental health therapy, and home health care services, if needed
- Lost income from missed work, and lost earning capacity if your injuries cause disabilities that prevent you from returning to work
- Lost quality of life or enjoyment, such as due to scarring or disfigurement, physical disabilities, or emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
What to Do If You’ve Been the Victim of Crime on Someone Else’s Property
Take these steps quickly to help protect your legal rights and options for seeking financial compensation from the property or business owner:
- Call 911 or contact the police department directly to report that you have been the victim of a crime.
- Report the incident to the property or business owner. A business or commercial establishment may prepare an accident or incident report for company records or for their insurer. Request a copy of the report before you leave.
- If any bystanders witnessed the incident, take down their names and contact information. Your lawyer may later need to reach out to them for a statement.
- Ask the property or business owner if they have any surveillance cameras. If they do, ask them to preserve the footage from the time before and during the crime.
- If possible, take your own photos of the scene. Include relevant details such as the lighting conditions, the presence of security, and any other safety features or warning signs.
- Get checked out by a doctor. The shock of being victimized by a crime can be overwhelming, but it is crucial that you seek medical attention right away. A doctor can document your injuries and begin appropriate treatment.
Finally, speak with a premises liability attorney from Sumner Law Group, LLC. We can explain your options for seeking compensation for the injuries and damages you suffered after being victimized by crime on someone else’s property.
Talk to a Premises Liability Attorney Now
Don’t wait to get the legal advice you need after being the victim of a crime that happened on someone else’s property. Call today for a free consultation with a premises liability lawyer from Sumner Law Group, LLC.