Assaulted at a Business - Do I Have a Claim?
The Duty to Protect
In California, the operator of a business has an obligation to use reasonable efforts to protect their patrons, even from one another. If a proprietor can anticipate a violent act on their property they must take steps to prevent that from occurring. Under the law, this is known as the "special relationship" doctrine, and it applies because a business owner generally has a special duty to protect their patrons they have invited onto their property. Business owners derive a benefit from their paying customers so they must do what they can to protect those same people.
Examples of Where the Duty Arises
The typical examples of the types of businesses on whom this duty is imposed include establishments where alcohol is sold. If a bar, nightclub or restaurant owner can see they have a dangerous patron (usually because they are intoxicated), the business must take steps to ensure the disorderly patron leaves or others are protected from any violence. All other businesses are subject to this same duty where violence can or has occurred. Even grocery stores have this same obligation if someone poses a threat.
After an Assault
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an assault, medical attention and evidence gathering should be the first things considered. Some people assume that a business will look out for them and do what they can to preserve evidence. This is often not the case. Cell phone photographs of the location and visible injuries suffered should be taken. Requesting any video be held as evidence is also a good idea.
Hiring an experienced injury attorney can help you present your claim and your lawsuit in a compelling manner. This is one of the most important steps in obtaining the compensation you deserve.