Businesses have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to secure their premises, as well as adjacent common areas within their control, like parking lots, against reasonably foreseeable criminal acts of third parties . [Delgado v. Trax Bar & Grill].
In a tort action, “causation” is an essential element where defendants are not liable unless their conduct (i.e., act or omission constituting a breach of duty to plaintiff) was a “legal cause” of plaintiff’s injury [Saelzler v. Advanced Group 400 (2001); PPG Industries, Inc. v. Transamerica Ins. Co. (1999); Whiteley v. Philip Morris Inc. (2004)]. Legal causation is generally a question of fact to be determined by the jury … unless, as a matter of law, the facts admit of only one conclusion. [Ortega v. Kmart Corp. (2001)].
For example, in a tenant’s suit alleging that the landlord’s failure to provide adequate security contributed to her rape at night by an intruder, it was for the jury to determine whether various security deficiencies, such as her apartment’s lack of security features found in other apartments in the complex, together were a substantial factor in the attack [Raven H. v. Gamette (2007)]. While in another case, inadequate security at a large apartment complex was not, as a matter of law, a legal cause of plaintiff’s rape by unknown assailants in broad daylight: There was no proof additional security would have prevented the assault. [Saelzler v. Advanced Group 400].
To know one’s rights and landlord’s liabilities in a tort action, it is best to work with an attorney who is an expert in personal injuries.