You probably know that the law requires business owners to take measures to protect your safety. Like most people here in Atlanta, you probably think this means that they must keep the floors clean, keep objects from falling and keep the sidewalks and parking lots clear during inclement weather. Do you know that they also need to provide for your safety as it relates to crimes committed by third parties?
What measures should businesses take to prevent third party crimes?
Numerous steps could help protect the people who frequent businesses from third party crimes:
- Curb appeal means more than creating a pleasing outdoor atmosphere for a business. Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed limits the ability of potential perpetrators to hide or "lie in wait" for a victim.
- Adequate lighting not only allows people to see where they are going. It also deters those who would do you harm since darkness limits your ability to identify a perpetrator or to see the danger coming at you.
- Many businesses now use security cameras on the exterior of their properties. However, without proper monitoring of those cameras, identifying potential threats and crimes in progress renders them useless. Even with monitoring, the personnel tasked with watching the cameras must have the appropriate training.
- Sign-in procedures, keycard access and controlled entry points also improve safety.
- Businesses could consult with local law enforcement regarding the most prevalent types of crimes in the area. Law enforcement might also make recommendations regarding the best safety measures to put into place for the location.
Not all of these recommendations will work for every business. Obviously, sign-in procedures and keycards won't work in a retail establishment, a bar or a restaurant. These establishments often use access control measures to prevent their businesses from being robbed and not necessarily to protect you from harm due to an assault or other violent crime. That does not mean, however, that businesses can ignore a potential for third party crimes that could occur on their premises. Businesses must prepare for and protect you from any foreseeable danger.
Can I hold the business responsible for what happened to me?
When a business fails to institute the appropriate safety measures to keep you safe, you could end up victimized by a third party. Yes, the perpetrator should face criminal and civil liability for his or her actions, but it's possible the business bears some liability as well. If the evidence indicates that the business created an atmosphere where criminal activity by third parties could occur, that business might owe you compensation for the damages you sustained.
As the victim of a crime, you more than likely suffered more than just physical injuries. You might be afraid to go out at night or otherwise live your life as you did prior to the incident. These psychological wounds often take much longer to heal. Even as the criminal proceedings against the person who hurt you progresses, you could speak with an attorney about the possibility of filing a civil action against the person, or people, who hurt you, along with the business that failed to protect you from a potentially foreseeable crime.