Are business owners or landlords responsible to those injured due to the criminal acts of third parties? Sometimes. Because of the “special relationship” a California business owner has with its customers, the owner or landlord must take reasonable steps to keep the premises safe against foreseeable criminal acts of others. In determining whether the owner must compensate the victim for his injuries, courts consider:

  • the type of crime committed
  • the type of commercial property (for example the owner of a parking garage will likely have a greater responsibility for safety than a business owner in a shopping center)
  • Whether the owner had notice of any previous criminal conduct
  • whether the owner had any reason to anticipate the type of criminal conduct that actually occurred
  • whether the owner could have discovered that criminal acts were being committed on the property
  • whether the owner has hired security guards
  • whether the security guard acted reasonably at the time of the criminal act
  • whether the criminal act occurred on property under the owner’s control
  • whether the owner had any formal security policies
  • whether the owner’s employees complied with the stated policy

Several of these factors relate to whether the owner had notice of prior criminal acts and how it responded to those acts. Unless a victim reports the criminal act to the property owner, the business owner or landlord may never learn of it, even if the police responded. To allow the owner an opportunity to correct the security issues before someone is hurt, it is important to always report security issues directly to the owner, and not just to law enforcement.