Hayes, Williams, Turner & Daughtry, P.A.

A proprietor can be held responsible for other's criminal acts

Could your landlord or the proprietor of a business be held responsible for injuries caused by another person's criminal actions?

In some cases, yes.

If you happen to be the victim of a criminal act -- whether you were assaulted, raped or injured in a break-in -- this is an important thing to consider.

At the heart of the issue are two things: the legal principle known as "premises liability" and whether the owner of the property (or manager) could have reasonably expected such a thing to happen.

For example, imagine that you live in a small apartment complex and a new tenant has recently moved in. He behaves in an aggressive and inappropriate way toward you and other tenants of the complex and several of you complain to the manager. Eventually, he responds to your request to turn down his music by kicking down the door to your apartment and beating you up. After he's arrested, you find out that he's had a history of violent arrests.

In a situation like that, it would be wise to talk to an attorney about your rights because the landlord or manager could have anticipated something like this happening. A background check would have revealed his violent criminal history. The reports of inappropriate actions and threats made against you and others also served as warnings that an altercation was clearly foreseeable.

A landlord has a duty to exercise a certain amount of diligence to protect the people he or she allows on the property from injury by third parties. That's precisely why many apartment complexes screen their residents and require screenings for any guests who are staying for more than a few days.

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