The Duty of Property Owners to Maintain a Safe Premises

Violent and criminal acts can happen to anyone, but when a person is harmed by intentional violence due to a lack of security the property owners and occupiers of that premises may be held liable as a result. While most people think of wet floors or a broken handrail when they think of premises liability, criminal activity is also considered a hazardous condition when it comes to maintaining safe premises. If you or someone you know has been injured while visiting another person’s residential or commercial property because of a lack of adequate security, Disney Law in Pittsburgh is here to help. Call or contact the office today to learn more about your legal options.


Lack of Adequate Security on Premises


A lack of adequate security can take many forms on another person’s premises and can be an issue for both residential and commercial property. One of the most common examples of a failure to maintain a safe premises is a lack of proper lighting. In apartment complexes and other multi-unit residential buildings this can take the form of a lack of lighting in hallways and stairwells, and on commercial properties it can include a lack of lighting in parking lots. A lack of security cameras in places of business and parking garages is another failure to maintain safe premises, as is failing to hire security guards for events on premises where this is a chance of harm or violence befalling a customer or guest.


A lack of adequate training of security personnel or negligence on their part, such as falling asleep on the job, also may qualify as a failure to maintain safe premises. In addition, property owners that fail to maintain existing security measures such as broken locks, faulty window latches, and returning keys could also be held liable for any violent acts that result.


Duty of Care for Property Owners


Property owners and occupiers owe a duty of care to visitors and guests on their premises. Invitees, which refers to people on the property by the express or implied invitation of the property owner for a social or business purpose, are owed the highest duty of care when it comes to maintaining a safe premises. Property owners and occupiers must maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to either warn guests about or repair any hazardous condition about which they knew or should have known. For the purposes of adequate security, this means installing enough security measures to keep the property reasonably safe and warning about or repairing any gaps in that security.


For licensees, which are people that are invited to the premises for a personal or social purpose, property owners and occupiers have a duty of care to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition and warn any licensees of any known hazards on the premises. When it comes to maintaining safe premises, this means installing proper security and providing a warning to any guests of dangerous conditions that could invite criminal activity.


Injuries Caused by Violence


Injuries inflicted by intentional acts of violence can have a catastrophic and permanent impact on victims harmed due to a lack of security in a premises liability case. These acts can range from physical attacks to sexual assault and even murder. Some of the most common injuries seen in these violent cases include the following:


  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Facial trauma
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations and scarring
  • Burns
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Paralysis
  • Death


Many injuries that occur because of a lack of safe premises often require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and in some cases lifelong additional care. It is critical that victims of these incidents receive full compensation for their injuries in order to fully cover their losses and recover from their trauma.


Compensation for Injury Victims


When a person is hurt by violence due to a lack of adequate security, they are entitled to collect compensation for their injuries. Damages for harm caused by intentional violence include both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include all medical expenses, property loss, lost wages, and the loss of future income and benefits. Noneconomic damages compensate the victim for their pain and suffering, emotional distress, any disability or disfigurement, and for the loss of enjoyment of life.


In the worst cases, where the victim dies from their injuries, the family of the deceased can also seek compensation for wrongful death. Damages for wrongful death include payment for all final medical bills, funeral and burial costs, and compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, emotional distress, and for the loss of love, guidance, companionship, and counsel of the deceased.


However, it is important to note that in premises liability cases involving a lack of security and other personal injury claims, the Pennsylvania court utilizes a modified comparative fault rule that can significantly impact the overall compensation in a case. Utilizing this rule, the court determines the degree of fault for every party involved in a negligent security case and reduces the overall award by that percentage. In addition, if a party is found to be more than 50% at fault for the incident, they are barred completely from collecting any damages for their injuries.


For example, if a victim in a negligent security case suffers $200,000 in damages and is found 25% at fault, the overall award is reduced to $150,000. In the same example, if the victim is found 55% at fault, they would receive zero compensation for their injuries. Because of the substantial impact of an unfavorable fault determination, it is critical that victims of negligent security premises liability cases hire an experienced attorney to handle their case.


Talk to Disney Law Today


When a property owner is negligent in their security measures and it results in injuries, the owner deserves to be held responsible for the harm inflicted on guests. At Disney Law, we zealously advocate on behalf of our clients in the Pittsburgh area who have been injured due to a lack of security as a customer or guest on another person’s premises. To learn more about your legal options, call or text Robert Disney at 412-999-5765 or contact us today to schedule a consultation.