Like other states, California’s law requires landowners, including homeowners and businesses, to exercise reasonable care to protect guests like customers tenants and the like. Basically, a property owner must be sure the land, and the buildings on the land, are safe and secure. Traditionally, this meant that landowners needed to take steps to prevent people from slipping and falling or from suffering other accidental injuries.
However, in recent decades, courts have come to recognize that landowners also have some legal obligation to make sure patrons and other visitors are reasonably safe from crime on the premises. While this does not mean that a business has to prevent every single potential crime, they do need to be aware of the surrounding circumstances and to provide cameras, security guards and the like in order to respond to those circumstances.
By way of example, if a college student gets attacked while on campus, then he or she may be able to sue the college for premises liability because the campus did not provide adequate security to prevent the crime. These sorts of cases are rarely cut and dry in practice. For one, a business can always argue that the real person at fault is the criminal who hurt the victim. Moreover, as a previous post discussed, if the injury happened on public property, then special rules and requirements may apply.
Still, a resident of the greater Bay Area who suffers a crime while on public land or the land of a private business may have legal options available to him or her. Speaking to an attorney about these options is an important first step.