Inadequate Security / Liability for Criminal Acts
Property owners, managers, and even third-party vendors, such as security companies, have important legal obligations when it comes to crimes committed on their premises. Victims have a right to sue in cases of premises liability such:
- Inadequate security in commercial buildings that results in a crime occuring.
- Assault and robberies in businesses, hotels, apartments, condos, bars, nightclubs and other such properties.
- Sexual assault in apartments, housing complexes, hotels, resorts, bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, banks, and other such properties.
If you have been the victim of a crime on a third-party premises, you can not only file a claim against the property owner to recover compensation and restitution (such as medical bills or recovering lost wages) but also other factors such as punitive damages, emotional trauma, and restorative justice to make you – the victim – “whole” again.
If you or a friend or loved one has been the victim of a crime on a third-party premise, the experienced Texas lawyer at De La Garza Law Firm can help examine all the factors in your case and determine who can be held responsible and what forms of restitution or compensation you are entitled to.
About Criminal Actions and Premises Liability
Civil lawsuits are separate from criminal lawsuits and are not concerned with guilt or innocence, only whether the perpetrator or responsible party is civilly liable. The eligible parties for compensation in a civil lawsuit include:
- Direct victims such as someone assaulted in a hotel.
- Indirect victims such as the family of someone who has been murdered.
- Third-parties such as insurance companies or the state.
- Government agencies seeking to recover funds spent on a case.
Different Types of Visitors Under Premises Liability
There can be a number of reasons why an individual is on someone’s property and Texas separates these individuals into three categories of visitors. Whether or not an individual has a legitimate and lawful reason for being on the property can affect the type of compensation they are able to recover.
The types of visitors in premises liability cases fall into the following categories:
- Invitees are those who have been actively invited onto the property with the landowner’s knowledge and for both parties’ benefit. In these types of cases, a landowner has the highest level of legal responsibility to provide proper care and safety. Examples of invitees include business patrons and workers.
- Licensees have a legal right to be on the property but may be invited or uninvited. Examples of licensees include solicitors, social guests, and recreational property visitors. There is a lower duty of care property owners must provide licensees.
- Trespassers are those who have no right to be on the premises and have the least claim to legal protection. Trespassers include those who break into buildings after hours, ignore property line markers, or who attend an event uninvited (i.e. “crash a party”). Property owners must only avoid injuring the visitor intentionally – unless in self-defense as a reaction to violence – or through gross negligence. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t cases where the owner or manager is still responsible for trespasser safety, such as if there was inadequate lighting or if the crime was foreseeable (possibly because it has happened before).
The Most Common Injuries Victims of Crime Sustain
Some of the common injuries and side effects victims of crime suffer from include:
- Physical Effects
- Difficulties with walking
- Bone fractures/broken bones
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Mental Effects
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicidal attempts
- Disassociation (i.e inability to focus on any given task at hand)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Emotional Effects
- Loss of control
The after-effects a victim of crime suffers can be just as traumatic as the actual event itself and can live them with a host of life-long issues. Because of these issues, it is vital that you seek out the necessary legal counsel of a qualified attorney who can help you to secure recovery needed to obtain the medical and psychological care you need.
Compensation Available for Victims
When it comes to compensation and restitution, it is important to understand that there is no straightforward result for any case. There are many factors that can affect the amount of recovery you can secure including the nature of the relationship between the perpetrator and victim, witnesses to the crime, damages sustained, ongoing damages and long-term injuries, and even the perpetrator’s financial means and ability to pay.
It is crucial to contact an experienced Texas attorney who understands the many different factors that can affect the victim of a crime on third-party premises. Some of the types of compensation available for victims of crime on third-party premises include:
- Fines may be straightforward and required by law such as if a security company did not have adequate staffing or protective measures such as metal detectors.
- Restitution is more complex and could include monetary compensation for rehab or prescription costs, counseling or therapy, insurance deductibles, medical exams and HIV testing or counseling in cases of sexual assault.
- Other less-obvious forms of compensation could include the costs of making a car or home accessible in cases of a victim who has been totally or permanently disabled, or relocation costs (monthly rent, transportation, storage) for victims of emotional trauma.
- Punitive damages go beyond simple compensation and are meant to punish the defendant. This could include cases where a property owner has been consistently negligent and the judge wants to “make an example” of them, or in very serious cases where the crime is particularly disturbing or heinous.
- Many states have government-run compensation programs such as the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, which directly assists victims in recovering compensation and restitution.
What to Consider When Choosing an Attorney
Choosing an attorney for cases of crime on third-party premises is an important decision. The attorney should have a clear track record of successfully litigating such cases.
It is important that the client feels comfortable communicating openly and freely with the attorney because the success of the case depends on the attorney’s ability to collect all necessary information, even painful information in cases of sexual assault or murders.
You should feel free to get a second opinion or consult another attorney. Before signing a contract, be clear on exactly what types of services and assistance you will be receiving from the attorney.
Victims of violent crimes committed on third-party premises, whether apartments, hotels, nightclubs or other venues, can change a person’s life forever. The property owner or manager of that property should be held responsible if they have been negligent in a manner which allowed the crime to take place.
At De La Garza Law Firm, we have years of experience helping victims who have suffered:
- An assault or robbery in a business, hotel, apartment complex, condo, bar, nightclub, or other property.
- Sexual assault or rape in an apartment complex, housing complex, hotel, resort, bar, nightclub, shopping mall, bank, or other such property.
When you seek the knowledgeable and experienced Texas attorney of De La Garza Law Firm, you can feel safe and confident knowing that you have a committed and tenacious lawyer on your side who is doing everything they can to help you secure full recovery for everything you have suffered.