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Can a crime victim file a claim against the property owner?

Can a victim of a crime such as a robbery or assault file a claim against the owner of the property where it occurred?

If the owner should have been able to foresee that the crime could happen, he should have minimized the risk. If he did not do so, and thus the crime occurred, he may have been negligent.

A duty of care

Each situation is unique, and laws vary by state. Generally, as in North Carolina, the victim of a crime may file a claim against the owner (and/or sometimes the tenant) of the property for negligent security, asserting that the owner did not fulfill the duty of care he owed the victim while on the property.

In some states, certain businesses can avoid liability by following statutory requirements for security. In Florida, the law presumes a convenience store owner to not be liable for negligent security if the store uses cameras and posts notices, among other requirements.

A duty to monitor and minimize risk

The owner must stay current regarding crime in the area and must outfit the property with suitable safeguards. At a minimum, this means adequate lighting and locks, and possibly security personnel. If the property has been the site of a crime, the owner's responsibility to do what he can to make the site safe may be much increased.

A property owner must act to correct factors, such as insufficient lighting or lack of locks on outside doors, that might allow criminal acts to occur on his property.

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