In today’s society you may be a victim of a crime by simply being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. You could be visiting a store or restaurant and suffer an assault by a patron, or just by someone that wanders in. You could be robbed, or the store could be robbed and you could be injured as a result. If you are a customer at a store when a crime occurs, and get injured as a result of the crime, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
In the District of Columbia, a business may be liable for injuries caused by a crime, even if the criminal has no connection to the business. This depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. However, courts in the District of Columbia recognize that it is impossible for a store, restaurant, or other business to guarantee the safety of its customers, as crimes can occur at any time. It would be unfair for a business to be an insurer of public safety—and public policy would not support such a huge responsibility or the resulting costs.
Despite these policy concerns, a business in the District of Columbia may be responsible if it behaved carelessly and the crime should have been foreseen. In other words, if the business should have realized its customers were in danger and failed to act, the business may be liable for your injuries. The District of Columbia courts have found that this happens when similar crimes have occurred at the business in the past, and the business did not take any steps to prevent the crimes from happening again. If the business has behaved particularly badly, they may be responsible for punitive damages, which are monetary damages beyond what would compensate you or your loved ones for your injuries, medical bills and expenses, pain, and suffering. Such a scenario requires a careful look at the business and prior crimes that may have occurred there. The Metropolitan Police Department maintains these records, and they may be subpoenaed to support your case. An expert may be engaged to offer an opinion as to any reasonable security measures the business ought to have employed.
If you have been injured at a business, it is important to reach out to a knowledgeable professional as soon as possible. Here at HANNON L AW GROUP, we have experience in litigating premises liability cases, and will fight to ensure that your injuries are properly compensated.