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Shopping Mall Liability for On-Site Violence

Violent Incidents Involving Premises Liability on the Rise in 2020

Statistics show a definite increase in crime over the course of 2020. The causes for this are widely debated, but they likely include an increase in poverty resulting from the loss of employment and other economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. One type of crime that has been on the increase is violent acts on shopping malls and large stores. These include violent disputes between individuals, gang versus gang violence, and armed robbery incidents, any of which may devolve into the use of knives, guns, other weapons, and simple fistfights. And far too often, it is the uninvolved, innocent passerby who is injured or killed when this violence breaks out, resulting in potential personal injury or wrongful death claims based upon premises liability for inadequate security.

One Tragic Example

One sad incident in a major city in the southeast — Atlanta — stands out. The city saw its largest number of homicides in more than two decades during the course of 2020. In a heartbreaking incident of gun violence just before Christmas, a shooting occurred between individuals at a mall in an Atlanta suburb. The incident broke out in the mall parking lot, but the victim wasn’t one of the people shooting at each other — it was a seven-year-old girl who was in a car with her family passing near the shooting incident. She was shot in the head and later died.

Watch YouTube Video: Reward upped to $15K in Buckhead shooting of little girl. The video below reports on the shooting death of the 7-year-old girl near Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, Georgia.

What is Going Wrong?

Beyond the various societal reasons for an increase in these violent events, the lack of proper security efforts by mall owners and operators is also an important element. Those who own and manage these types of premises are certainly on notice that gun violence and other violent events can occur in and around their stores, malls, and parking areas. Unfortunately, many of these mall operators do not take adequate measures to prevent such events and to properly deal with them when they do happen. As a result, many innocent bystanders are injured or killed every year when gun violence breaks out in these establishments.

When this happens, the victim is likely to have a potential claim for personal injury based upon premises liability for the inadequate security efforts.

How Does Premises Liability Factor In?

One significant element of premises liability is foreseeability — should the owner or operator of premises have reasonably been aware of the potentially dangerous condition on their property and its likelihood of causing harm to a visitor? With these incidents of gun violence over the last several years, each and every incident — wherever they happen — is notice and warning to mall owners everywhere that similar incidents are increasingly likely to occur on their premises.

Because this is the case, mall operators are obliged to make reasonable efforts to secure their premises and safeguard visitors from such violence. That means hiring security staff, setting up camera systems to monitor both the interior and exterior parts of the premises, and other security efforts, all of which cost money. Unfortunately, some choose money over safety and don’t make an adequate effort to make their premises safer.

Many mall owners will argue that there is no way to prevent all violent incidents on their premises. While this is true, studies conducted show conclusive evidence that taking additional security precautions reduces the frequency of these incidents. And even just one fewer incident may mean a tragedy averted and one more seven-year-old girl alive and well.

Sacramento Premises Liability Attorney

My name is Ed Smith, and I am a premises liability attorney located in Sacramento, California. If an incident of violence on premises such as a shopping mall or large store has resulted in injury to you or a member of your family, it is crucial to look for advice from seasoned legal professionals with expertise in that area of law. Please feel free to call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 and speak with one of our injury attorneys for free and friendly advice about a potential premises liability claim. We can also be contacted through our online form.

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

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