The holiday shopping season is in full swing. Every year the process becomes ever-more hectic, the crowds get bigger and bigger, and people seem to shell out more cash for more expensive stuff. But with this somewhat chaotic season comes some dangers that people tend to overlook, and if those dangers are overlooked by the establishments people are shopping at, they can be on the hook for liability should things go wrong.
While shopping this holiday season, malls and shopping centers that fail to take measures to ensure a patron’s safety may be responsible for injuries inflicted on them by third-parties. Every year, shoppers become the victims of assault, robbery, physical abuse, sexual abuse, kidnapping, trampling, carjacking and other violent crimes. Owners of commercial property, who invite the public onto their property for the purposes of gain or profit, have an obligation to ensure the safety of those who chose to accept the invitation.
WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS IF YOU WERE INJURED WHILE SHOPPING:
Every premises liability claim against a landowner, whether it be the result of a slip and fall on a puddle, or an assault by a third party on the premises, requires a showing that the landowner had notice of the dangerous or unsafe condition, that the dangerous condition was not repaired, eliminated, or warned of, and that failure to fix or warn of the dangerous condition was the cause of the injuries. Specifically, in a case in which a patron at a store or shopping mall is assaulted, or is otherwise the victim of a violent crime, a showing that the landowner knew, or had reason to know, that the safety of its patrons were likely to be in danger, is required. The greater the similarity of previous situations to the crime at issue, the greater the likelihood that the mall or shopping center could have foreseen the crime. A mall or shopping center that could reasonably foresee a crime perpetrated against its patrons, has an obligations to take precautions to protect their patrons.
An example of the requirement of similar previous instances is demonstrated by the story of a young boy who brought a lawsuit to recover for injuries suffered when he was assaulted outside of a shopping mall. In this instance, there was a history of “gangs of youths” loitering and engaging in fighting outside of the video arcade in the mall. In this instance, the young man was attacked in similar fashion, outside of the arcade. Finding reason to believe that the mall owner could reasonably foresee the assault on the young man, New York’s Appellate Court rejected the mall owner’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit.
If it can be shown that the injuries suffered from a violent crime were reasonably foreseeable, the owner of a mall or shopping center is responsible to compensate you for your injuries, provided they could have prevented the crime by simply taking minimal precautions. These include things like hiring sufficient security, employing security cameras, providing adequate exterior lighting, and placing emergency phones or call boxes in accessible areas.
The lack of basic safety measures may be grounds for claims of negligence against the owner of a shopping mall or store. If you or your loved one were injured in an incident in which security seemed faulty in New York, make sure you consult with a personal injury attorney that has knowledge in premises liability.
So good luck with your shopping this year, and all of us at RGLZ hope all of you have a great holiday season!