Dangerous Property

There are places in the world that are dangerous. There are places in the United States that are dangerous. In all probability there are places close to where you live that you consider dangerous dangerous. Sadly, some may be communities riddled with poverty and crime. No one can guarantee your safety in these areas. There may also be businesses that have locations that are dangerous. Businesses that advertise in one way or the other and invite you into their store so they can sell you a service or product or make money from your visit must provide a reasonably safe location. These businesses do not have the ability to guarantee your safety, but the law law requires that they take reasonable efforts to provide a safe place.

I wrote earlier today on the difference between the Common Law and Statutory Law. This is a good example of the Common Law. Over years the law of negligence has developed through the Court System. Negligence is defined as doing something, or not doing something, you should have done that causes or directly leads to an injury to another person. Obviously, the law of negligence is more detailed than my definition, but my definition helps you understand what negligence means. For example, running a stop sign, hitting another car and causing someone injuries is negligence. Speeding at a extremely excessive speed through a stop sign or red light could be negligence or gross negligence. Gross negligence is doing someone worse than just a mistake or accident. It is an action that is certain while you are doing it will likely cause injury to another. Going 60 miles per hour through a residential area would probably constitute gross negligence because the driver knows pedestrians and children will be at play.

Back on dangerous premises. The Common Law developed rules that said the owner or possessor of property had to take reasonable steps to make sure people who are invited on the premises are not injured. For example, if someone operates an Amusement Park they need to take reasonable steps to ensure that the rides are properly maintained and inspected. A person that owns a store in a high crime area, where there have been other instances of crimes on or close to their property, needs to take reasonable steps to protect the customers that are invited onto the property. This may mean installing video surveillance, putting up a fence, or having a security guard patrol the premises.

Most people are probably aware of the private security guards that patrol major shopping centers. All major shopping centers can be high crime areas. It is known that criminals prey on shoppers, especially around Christmas. The Police Departments keep crime statistics for each area of the city and businesses know if they have high crime. If they do indeed have high crime, then they must take some reasonable steps to protect customers. The law does not require the businesses to guarantee safety, but to be reasonable. This area of the law is one good example of the Common Law.

At Coxwell & Associates we have represented people in what is described above. The law calls this premise liability. In two (2) cases we represented families whose kids were accidentally shot by their friends while visiting them. Guns are dangerous in the hands of children. Children should not have access to guns without parental supervision. If a parent has guns in their home they need to keep them locked and away from the hands of young children. In both cases we successfully helped parents recover for injuries due to their kids. In another case we helped a woman recover from injuries sustained when she was raped at a apartment complex. The apartment complex advertised how safe it was yet it was in a high crime area and there were known break ins at the apartment.

Premise cases are not very common but they do happen. Everyone invited onto property should be assured that the owner has taken reasonable efforts to ensure your safety. Understand that the owner does not have to guarantee your safety, only use reasonable steps. There is a different rule that applies if you are a trespasser on property. I will discuss that rule another time.

Merrida Coxwell is a experienced attorney who helps people who are seriously injured in all types of accidents, who are charged with crimes, and some financial fraud cases. Merrida is a trial lawyer with the experience to handle many types of cases, but generally limits his work to the area described. Frank Coxwell is the sole partner who handles consumer bankruptcy and debtor creditor issues.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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