Are Business Owners Liable for Criminal Acts On Their Property?

Most of the time, premises liability relates to a negligent property owner or operator. Under these laws, business owners can be held liable for injuries someone sustains on their property. But what happens when someone experiences a criminal act while on a business property? Is the business owner responsible for the actions of someone else?

Let’s take a look at what the law says about whether business owners can be held liable for criminal acts on or near their property.

Criminal Acts and Premises Liability

In premises liability cases, the plaintiff (victim) must establish negligence by proving the following three elements:

1. That the property owner has a duty of care to those on their property

2. That the property owner breached that duty by act or omission

3. That the breach resulted in damages (financial losses)

Once these elements are proven, then a claim may be filed.

Are Business Owners Liable for Criminal Acts?

Generally, when someone experiences an attack, assault, rape, or other criminal act by a third party on someone else’s property, he or she may be able to file a third-party tort claim. Of course, a property owner may not be able to foresee that a criminal act will occur on their property. However, it is the property owner’s responsibility to protect visitors from third parties who may be dangerous.

If a landlord knows about a dangerous third party, or should have known about a dangerous party or situation, then he or she has a duty to prevent dangerous conditions on the property. If the plaintiff can prove that the property owner had knowledge but did not act to prevent harm, then a claim may proceed. If, however, the landlord could not have known about such a danger, then he or she may not be held liable for injuries.

Premises liability is a complex area of law, and it is best to consult with an attorney before filing any claims.