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Premises Liability Concerns with Gun Violence Increase

A Year to Remember

The year 2020 was certainly one for the history books with our news dominated by Covid-19, political divisiveness and a hotly contested election, and popular unrest, marches, and demonstrations. However, all of this has served to reduce attention to something that would have dominated the news in a more normal year — a significant rise in gun violence nationwide.

Major cities have been hot spots for this increase, with dozens of people shot in Chicago during two different three-day periods during the summer of 2020. In a single week in August, New York saw almost three times as many shooting incidents as during the same time period the prior year, including more than a dozen homicides. During two months in the early summer of 2020, the twenty largest cities in the U.S. recorded a 37% increase in gun-related homicides than in 2019.

In addition to the criminal charges that may be brought against the perpetrators of gun violence, there may also be significant civil liability exposure based on premises liability for providing inadequate security.

Who Can Help?

While police officers, sheriff deputies, district attorneys, and state and federal law enforcement obviously have the most significant parts to play in removing illegal weapons from our cities and arresting and convicting those who have committed crimes, it is also important not to forget the important role that property owners and managers also play in securing the public from gun violence. Failing to provide adequate security for properties that are open to the public can result in significant premises liability for those who may have negligently owned, managed, and secured the premises.

What Are the Problems?

Unfortunately, some premises are the scene of repeat incidents of gun violence and other conflicts. The California State Fair at CalExpo in Sacramento, for example, saw gunfire incidents in 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2018, a stabbing in 2003, and nearly seventy arrests in 2016. The day after Thanksgiving 2020 saw a shooting at Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento that resulted in two fatalities. Sherwood Mall in Stockton was the scene of gun violence in March 2020 that resulted in a 15-year-old shooting two other teenagers, one of whom died. Both malls were the sites of other violent incidents in past years.

Watch YouTube Video: What Does Gun Violence in American Look Like? | The Economist. The video below discusses the ongoing gun violence in America and what needs to be done about it.

Dealing with Gun Violence and Premises Liability

Obviously, premises where large numbers of people regularly gather – malls and fairs being good examples – require heightened security levels to keep visitors safe, especially if those locations have a history of prior incidents of gun violence or other violent events.

When we see the same properties over and over in the news with shooting incidents, it points to a need for additional security. Research has shown that even minimal security efforts can significantly reduce shooting incidents and the gang activity that is often the source.

When the owners and managers of premises such as shopping malls, public fairs, housing complexes, and the like fail to put reasonable security measures in place, we are all put at risk. However, these large venues are often owned by real estate investment companies and other large corporations — often out of state — that have little or no direct connection to the local communities where these properties are located and who are put at risk by inadequate security.

Who is Responsible?

These businesses are interested in owning as many profitable properties as possible to maximize their income. The safety of their guests and visitors is often a lower priority. When the provided security is inadequate and results in injuries, the victims can present personal injury claims and lawsuits based upon premises liability for inadequate security. This is based upon the duty of property owners to provide reasonable security to protect visitors from foreseeable crimes that may be committed by other people.

Cases for premises liability due to inadequate security have been made successfully against residential and commercial property owners. Still, their responsibilities may vary — a homeowner, for example, is less likely to have “foreseeable” criminal activity on their premises than would the owner of a large shopping mall.

Some might also wonder why a personal injury victim would consider suing the property owner rather than the person who actually injured them in these incidents. The reasons are straightforward — the property owner is easier to locate and is much more likely to have insurance against which a personal injury settlement or jury verdict can apply.

Sacramento Premises Liability Attorney

Hello – I’m Ed Smith, a premises liability attorney in Sacramento. If you or a member of your family has been injured due to gun violence or other incidents resulting from inadequate security on premises, please contact us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 to reach one of our injury attorneys. Alternatively, use our online contact form.

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