Landowner’s and Property Manager’s Responsibilities

Crimes such as assaults, murder, and rape are horrific realities of our existence. Apartment building owners have to take reasonable measures to protect its tenants from crimes committed on its property . Similarly , hotels and motels must protect its guests . Lastly , shopping mall owners and restaurants also have a legal duty to protect its patrons from attacks by third party criminals. A property owner who fails to take reasonable measures to deter crimes may be held financially responsible to the victim for the physical pain and suffering and medical expenses sustained by the crime victim.

The crime deterrent measures that a landowner must take in order to protect its customers depends on the foreseeability of the attack. Foreseeability is an analysis of the likelihood of an attack by a criminal based on many historical factors specific to the property and the adjacent area. The primary factor used to determine foreseeability is the types of crimes and the number of crimes in the relevant geographic area . This prior criminal history drives the legal duty of the landowner to implement measures to deter the criminal act. Generally , a property owner will be required to compensate a crime victim only if the attack was foreseeable and the crime deterrent measures were insufficient. In other words, not every criminal attack will result in financial compensation to the victim.

The most common crime deterrent measures are architectural measures such as limiting the number of entry and exit points, automatic gates requiring access codes fencing and very important lighting. Security cameras are also considered an effective deterrent. In some setting armed security guards may be considered necessary.

In the apartment and motel setting self locking doors are an important element of promoting guest safety. I represented a guest of a franchisee of a nationwide motel chain. This guest had been robbed just after he entered his room by two criminals who were lying in wait for him. The door to the room did not automatically lock behind him . The absence of a self locking door is what enabled the armed robbery to succeed. The criminals would be less likely to have chosen that motel if the doors self locked. The neighborhood surrounding the motel had an extensive history of property crimes and some assaults.

A carjacking took place in the parking lot of gay bar near a local university. The crime victim is shot in his right shoulder during the carjacking. The neighborhood was relatively free of assaultive crime. Therefore, we could not claim the property owner was negligent for not employing armed guards. Based on the excessive number of entry and exit points and the inadequate lighting, we attained a very favorable out of court settlement.

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If you are looking for a slip and fall lawyer in Pembroke Pines/Miramar, contact Law Office of Oscar Syger!