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What Is a Premises Liability Claim?

Premises liability comes into play in personal injury cases where injury is caused by some type of unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property or due to inadequate supervision or security on someone’s property leading to injury or assault.

Corporations, store owners, boarding schools, boys’ homes, etc. have a duty to keep the folks they invite in to their places of business safe. They’ve got a duty to make the premises safe. They’ve got a duty to keep their patrons safe from standing spills, uneven pavement, uncleared snow, icy walks, insufficient lighting, inadequate security, and inadequate supervision of staff members.

Premises liability is a very large body of law and in all of these instances, the owner or individual in possession of the land or premises where somebody is hurt through any of these means can be liable.

What Would Constitute a Premises Liability Claim Stemming from a Sexual Assault Incident?

Imagine a parking structure in downtown Salt Lake City that has inadequate security and inadequate lighting. Due to the inadequate security and inadequate lighting, the parking structure welcomes criminals who know that the garage is dark and is empty of officers, cameras and security guards. Now, imagine that the owner of the parking structure knows that a rape occurred in their parking garage and that the rapist was never caught. Rather than increasing security, and purchasing cameras, and adding additional lighting to the parking structure, the owners choose to do nothing. Seeing that the parking structure is still dark, and that there are still no cameras and no security guards, the rapist returns one week later and rapes a second woman in the parking structure. In this scenario, premises liability law permits our community to hold the owners of the parking structure accountable for their negligent or conscience decision to do nothing. The parking structure provided the rapist the time, space and opportunity to victimize multiple women.

Now, premises liability law doesn’t just apply to the inadequate security scenario. It applies to situations where unqualified and untrained staff members of a boarding school overreact and break a child’s arm or leg in an improper restraint scenario; it applies when a boarding school chooses to not run proper background checks and hires an employee that comes in and hurts a child, or when a boarding school hires an employee that they don’t screen or call any references on and this person comes in and ends up being a child molester.

How Common Are Sexual Assault-Premises Liability Situations?

Sexual Assault-Premises Liability situations are very prevalent. Feller & Wendt, a member of Advocates United is a proud sponsor of Prevent Child Abuse Utah (PCAU). PCAU provides a number of shocking statistics that our community should be aware of. For example, each year in Utah alone there are approximately 10,000 victims of child abuse. Sexual abuse is the most frequently confirmed allegation. In fact, Utah’s rate is 23% which is 3 times the national average which is roughly 9%. Additionally, 90% of a time a child is abused by someone in their circle of trust, or someone with authority over them. We teach our kids about stranger danger but 90% of the time it is somebody that is in a position of authority or trust and therein lies the problems with these therapeutic boarding schools. Therapeutic boarding schools are a hotbed for abuse especially when the facility decides that their money is more important than the safety of at-risk children.

Now keep in mind that when talking about the boarding school molestation case, every child admitted by these facilities have had some sort of sexual history or life problems. It’s the reason they’re being admitted into these facilities in the first place. And what these facilities promise is to stand in the shoes of the child’s parents. The Latin is In Loco Parentis. What it means is “in the place of the parent.” So when these facilities accept these kids, they’ve got to keep the child as safe as the parent would. What occurs, however, is that these facilities get too busy watching their pocket books rather than caring for their at-risk population and before long the facility has either missed something on a background check, or gets too confident or too lazy to properly screen or investigate a potential employee, or train employees, or supervise at-risk children and/or employees and a child is hurt, molested or killed.

Additionally, it is our experience in representing children who have been abused at these facilities that the old adage, “see something, say something” doesn’t apply a lot of times at these boarding schools and therefore kids are groomed, and abused.

For more information on premises liability claims In Utah, a free initial consultation with an Ogden premises liability lawyer is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 499-5060 today.

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