Under the concept of premises liability in Maryland, property owners can be held liable when visitors and guests are injured in accidents due to dangerous conditions. However, you may wonder about your rights if you are hurt due to third-party conduct that is intentional and criminal in nature. You certainly suffer many of the same physical, emotional, and financial losses as you would in an accident. But these consequences would seem to stem from the assailant’s acts, not the property owner’s breach of duty.
You might be surprised to learn that you do have rights when a business or individual fails to maintain adequate security. Though there are several key aspects you need to prove to recover compensation. Talk to a Maryland premises liability attorney about your options, but some basic information may be useful.
Duties of Property Owners in Maryland
In general, premises liability is a type of personal injury claim that is based upon the concept of negligence. As such, there are four essential elements that a victim must prove:
- The property owner had a duty to ensure that the premises is reasonably safe from foreseeable hazards;
- That person or entity breached this legal duty;
- The breach of duty was a direct cause of the injury-causing accident; and,
- The victim sustained losses because of being hurt.
Some of the most common types of premises liability claims arise when a victim slips, trips, or falls because of a property owner’s negligent acts or omissions. Examples include failure to clean up a spill, secure store shelving, or make repairs to broken hand railings. Still, the duty extends to all aspects of safety – which may include providing security.
Premises Liability for Inadequate Security
When a person is hurt because of criminal attack on property, element #1 above is a key factor. The person or entity is only required to protect against foreseeable hazards. There must be some knowledge of the threat. You can prove this aspect of a negligent security claim through:
- Police reports regarding arrests made near the attack;
- Calls to law enforcement regarding criminal activity;
- Information on Neighborhood Scout, an online source that provides crime statistics for people relocating to new communities; and,
- Testimony from witnesses who have knowledge of the dangers.
The second point regarding element #1 is that property owners can only be required to make sure the premises are safe from a reasonableness standard. Which means taking the same actions that a prudent party would under the same circumstances. You may NOT have a claim if the property owner:
- Installed security cameras on the premises;
- Hired a 24×7 security guard;
- Implemented an automatic locking system for exterior doors; or,
- Employed key or card access technology.
Talk to a Baltimore County, MD Premises Liability Lawyer About Your Options
If you were injured in a criminal attack caused by a property owner’s failure to provide adequate security, it is essential to retain skilled legal counsel for assistance with your claim. To learn how our team can help, please contact attorney Michael A. Freedman. We can set up a free consultation to review your circumstances and get started with the claims process.