There is an area of law under the general category of “Premises Liability Law” known as “Negligent Security Law.” The term “negligent security” describes a situation where you become the victim of a violent, criminal attack, such as an assault, shooting, rape or robbery, while on someone else’s property. These claims usually come up in the context of a customer being followed to their car in a shopping center and mugged before they can get in their car; a person being robbed or shot while removing money from an ATM machine; an assault inside a hotel room, or a robbery at a gas station while you are standing next to your car, filling up with gas.
The law imposes a duty on these commercial establishments to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. That includes the obligation to be aware of what is going on around them in the community. If robberies, shootings, and/or other violent criminal activity have been going on within a reasonably close distance to the location where your incident occurred, the property owner has a duty to do something about it to protect you.
If a shopping center is constantly the subject of parking lot robberies, the shopping center has a duty to add more security guards, put up more video surveillance, add more lighting, eliminate some entrances and exits or to take other action that other shopping centers would or should take to protect against crime. If one shopping center is in an area that is targeted by criminals more than others, there may be a higher duty for that shopping center to provide much more security for its customers then the shopping center across town, where little criminal activity occurs.