Third-party violence is a possibility with which all businesses must contend. According to court rulings on premises liability, fault often depends on not acting on direct knowledge related to a specific threat. The law requires the property owner to supply a reasonable amount of security to individuals who may enter the premises based on the owner’s knowledge of possible threats. The definition of reasonable is decided by a jury should the case go to trial.
An example from 1999 shows that an employer was given information by the employee about a restraining order and threats made to her by a boyfriend. Although the employer promised heightened security and gave photographs of the boyfriend to posted security guards to help them keep him out of the building, no one stopped him when he called to make sure the victim was at work, walked past the security guards and killed the employee. The question in the negligence case that followed was whether the employer did enough to protect the employee from a known threat.
Although businesses don’t have a duty to police the conduct of outsiders, neither do they have the right to ignore danger. A sign reading ‘Enter at Your Own Risk” is not sufficient to remove liability unless it specifies a certain danger, such a hazardous materials or falling objects. A sign alone is unlikely to remove liability.
Premises liability isn’t limited to unsafe premises or inadequate security. Negligence may be claimed in a wide variety of alleged calamities that can occur at any shopping center, apartment building or business center. A Miami attorney with solid experience in litigating cases involving claims of negligence liability may be able to help clients protect themselves in the event of an on-site incident.
Source: Huffington Post, “When Is a Business Liable for Outsider Violence on Its Premises?“, Brad Reid, September 13, 2013