In Missouri, a business is responsible for personal injuries suffered by its patrons, even if the injuries are inflicted by the acts of other patrons or third persons, if the owner:
1. By the exercise of reasonable care could have known that the conduct was occurring or was about to occur; and
2. Could have protected customers by controlling this conduct or by giving adequate warning to customers so that they could have avoided the danger.
When the injuries a patron sustains are caused by intentional, criminal acts of other patrons or third persons, it is more difficult — but not impossible — to prove that a business is responsible for those injuries. However, Missouri courts have determined that liability will attach when:
- There is a history on the premises of specific acts of criminal
violence (i.e. aggravated assault, theft, etc);
- Specific persons have committed violent crimes on the premises in the past;
- The person who caused the plaintiff personal injuries on this occasion
has been on the premises before and acted violently (such that the business has notice of the danger);
- There is a duty imposed on a company or individual to protect the injured party by virtue of a contract between that person or entity and the property owner or manager. (This theory may allow a victim of the crime to sue a security company or other entity that owes a contractual duty to the property owner/manager because the victim is a “third-party beneficiary” to that contract.)
In order to fall into one of these special circumstances, an injury victim must prove that there had been specific incidents of violent crimes on the premises that are sufficiently numerous and recent, so as to place the defendant on notice of this ‘history of violence.’ Contacting a lawyer who is familiar with common defense tactics on these cases, who knows what evidence must be secured and how to identify potential defendants is critical to win your case.
Don’t be victimized twice. You need Rogers Sevastianos & Bante, LLP now — a firm with a history of handling and winning these cases. Contact us today.