Property owners in New York must ensure safe premises for visitors. Owners of accommodation and hospitality facilities, shopping malls and other places that welcome public access must take reasonable steps to protect visitors from harm. Along with eliminating slip-and-fall hazards and making sure stairwells are brightly lit, security to prevent assaults and thefts is also the responsibility of property owners — that is if they want to avoid facing premises liability lawsuits.
When property owners face such claims, the court will look at whether safety and security hazards were foreseeable — based on the prevalence and types of criminal activity in the area. Other potential dangers include the untrimmed growth of trees and shrubs that could provide hiding for perpetrators, and poorly lit parking lots or garages. Closed circuit video and security camera monitoring can provide additional safeguards against assaults and thefts.
Accommodation facilities can benefit from establishing a system to control key management along with a sign-in policy and a clear protocol to inspect arriving parcels. Some property owners collaborate with law enforcement to learn about crime problems in the area. Police or a security agency can also be linked to the establishment’s alarm system.
Unfortunately, not all property owners prioritize the safety of visitors. Victims of assault or theft at public facilities might have grounds to seek financial relief through the New York civil justice system. However, this is a complicated field of the law that is best navigated with the support and guidance of an experienced premises liability attorney. A lawyer can assist with establishing negligence and advocating for the client in court.