You may be familiar with the term Premises Liability. And although you might have heard of it, many people have a misunderstanding of the necessary elements of a property owner to be found responsible. In short, all property owners are held to a reasonable standard. That means that they have to be reasonable about how they control and maintain their property under all circumstances.
Recently, we received an inquiry from a family who had a loved one shot at a gas station late at night. Your first thought might be that gas stations cannot guarantee people’s safety. In general, that is true. But a law firm has to look at the circumstances of each individual event. In this case, the person operating the gas station on behalf of a multi-national chain was behind a locked door and Plexiglas. People have to slide money through a little windowpane in order to complete the transaction. In our case, the customer told the gas station employee that there were some men hanging around that looked dangerous. He told them “He might be looking to rob you, you might want to call the police.” The customer returned to his car and the man that he had referred to began accosting him. He did his best to fight back but one of them ultimately pulled out a gun and shot him to his death. It turns out that there had been multiple shootings at this gas station, always late at night.
Given that this had happened time and time again, isn’t it reasonable that a property owner is put on notice that must do something? In other words, if you are going to be open for business late at night and you know it’s dangerous for customers to be there, you have to take steps to try and make it safer. Security cameras, better lighting, or perhaps a police detail are all deterrents that can persuade would-be criminals to not go through with any type of nefarious act.
In short, each situation is different and has to be reviewed by a skilled lawyer who is capable of looking at the situation as a whole to determine if the property owner was acting unreasonably.
The law firm of Colucci, Colucci & Marcus, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country.