The Impact of Criminal Activity on Premises Liability Law

Criminal activity can have a significant impact on premises liability law. Premises liability refers to the legal responsibility of a property owner to ensure that their premises are safe for visitors and occupants. When criminal activity occurs on a property, it can be seen as a failure of the property owner to provide adequate security measures for the safety of their guests.

The Impact of Criminal Activity on Premises Liability Law

When Can a Property Owner be Liable for Criminal Activity?

In some cases, criminal activity may be foreseeable, which would make a property owner liable if they failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent such incidents. For example, if there have been multiple robberies in a particular parking lot or the surrounding area, the property owner may be expected to install surveillance cameras or hire security personnel to prevent future incidents. If they fail to do so, and a visitor is injured in a robbery, the owner can be liable for damages. In other cases, criminal activity can be unforeseeable, and property owners are not responsible for harm resulting from such incidents. However, property owners may still have a duty to assist injured parties and promptly report criminal activity to the authorities.

Negligent Security Claims

When a property owner or manager fails to protect visitors and guests from foreseeable criminal activity, those injured have the right to pursue premises liability cases, also referred to as negligent security cases. Negligent security can take on many forms, for example: 

  • Inadequate or non-existent security measures. For example, failing to install cameras, alarms, or locks.
  • Poorly trained security personnel. This happens when the security staff is untrained or not equipped to handle potential threats, causing a lapse in security protocols.
  • Failure to respond to potential threats. When a property owner fails to respond promptly or correctly to a potential threat, it can cause harm to individuals on the property.
  • Negligent hiring practices. When a property owner fails to perform background checks and hires security personnel with a history of violence or criminal behavior, putting visitors at risk.
  • Failure to maintain security equipment, such as broken locks, which can lead to security breaches.
  • Insufficient lighting. Poor lighting can make it easy for criminals to hide or commit crimes on a property.
  • Lack of appropriate signage or warning signs. Without proper warning signs, people may not be aware of potential criminal activity on a property.

How to Hold a Property Owner Liable for Criminal Activity

To hold a property owner liable for criminal activity, you must be able to prove the following four elements of negligence.

Duty of Care

The property owner owed you a duty of care to keep their premises reasonably safe. This duty only applies if you were legally allowed on the property and not trespassing.  

Breach of Care

The property owner failed to exercise reasonable care in providing adequate security for visitors, created an unreasonable risk of harm, and the defendant (at-fault party) knew or should have known about potential criminal activity. 


The defendant’s failure to provide adequate security and protect or warn against harm directly caused your injury. 


You sustained damages as a result of your injury. For example, medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.

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