Under Iowa premises liability law, businesses such as retail stores, parking garages, commercial properties, shopping malls, casinos, airports, amusement parks, hospitals, nightclubs and bars, schools and universities, and rental properties can be found responsible for personal injuries or wrongful death caused by criminal activity, such as assaults, robberies, and homicides, on the property. Such claims are brought under the theory that business owners have an obligation to provide necessary security for the protection of people lawfully on the property. Failure to provide such security can constitute negligence and expose the property owner to legal liability.
Iowa premises liability law requires business owners to protect lawful visitors from dangerous conditions on the property. Criminal activity is a type of dangerous condition recognized under Iowa law. The business may be liable for criminal activity if the victim proves that the business knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known of the potential for criminal activity on the premises and that it involved an unreasonable risk of injury to a person in the victim's position.
A common example of such prior knowledge on the part of a business owner is when there's a history of crime in the area. That may trigger the property owner's legal duty to protect visitors to the property, such as by installing security cameras or hiring security guards. Other examples of negligent security claims include insufficient lighting and inadequate locks on doors and windows.
Negligent security cases encompass many possible situations. The victim could be a customer leaving or entering a business or inside the business shopping. The victim could be an employee inside of a business closing it up at night or opening it first thing in the morning. Perhaps a delivery person. Or someone walking to or from their car in a parking garage. Maybe someone entering or leaving an apartment building or who is inside one of the apartments as a resident or visitor. Please contact us if you have a negligent security case you'd like to discuss.By Harley Erbe