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When Can a Business or Property Owner Be Held Liable for a Sexual Assault?

January 28, 2020 – Matt Albrecht

Business or Property Owner Be Held Liable for a Sexual Assault?

Sadly, sexual violence remains a serious problem in our country. The Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs reports that approximately 33 percent of women and 10 percent of men in our state have been sexually assaulted or abused. 

Certainly, the perpetrator should be responsible for their actions—but they are not the only party that may bear liability for a sexual assault. 

In Washington, a business or property owner may be held liable for assault or abuse that occurs on their premises. Here, our Spokane sexual assault injury lawyers explain what survivors need to prove in order to hold a third party defendant liable in a civil sexual assault claim. 

Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuits are Premises Liability Cases

The key thing to know about civil sexual assault injury claims is that they are typically based on the theory of negligent security—which is a type of premises liability claim. If you are filing a lawsuit against a business or property owner for an assault or abuse, you must prove that their negligence, in some manner, contributed to the attack. 

As explained in the Washington Civil Jury Instructions, the owner or occupier of a premise can be held legally liable for physical injuries only if they failed to exercise ordinary care and thereby created an unreasonable risk of harm for invited guests. 

Defining Negligent Security in Washington

Civil sexual assault claims should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. What constitutes negligence will always depend on the specific context at hand. To hold a business or property owner liable for a sexual assault, you must be prepared to demonstrate that they failed to provide the level of security that a reasonably prudent business or property owner would have in the same or similar circumstances. 

As an example, imagine that a person was sexually assaulted in an apartment building in Spokane. Would the apartment building be liable for the assault? The answer is “it depends.” A comprehensive investigation would be required. Here are a few of the questions that would need to be answered: 

  • Was the assault committed by an employee?
  • How did the preparator get into the building?
  • Was there adequate screening at all entrances?
  • Were all of the building’s locks functional?
  • Does the building have security cameras?
  • Was there adequate lighting?

If the apartment building’s failure to abide by standard safety protocols contributed to or allowed the attack to occur, then that company should be held responsible. If you were a victim of sexual assault or abuse, do not assume that you are prevented from bringing a civil claim. Set up a confidential consultation with an experienced attorney who can advise you of your rights and options

Speak to a Spokane, WA Sexual Assault & Abuse Attorney Today

At‌ ‌Albrecht‌ ‌Law‌ ‌PLLC, our Washington sexual assault injury lawyers are compassionate, effective advocates for survivors. If you or your loved one was attacked, assaulted, or abused and you are considering filing a claim against a business or property owner, we can help. For a free, strictly confidential consultation, please contact our legal team today. From Spokane, we serve communities throughout Eastern Washington. Call 509-495-1246

 

Albrecht Law PLLC

5105 E 3rd Ave Ste 101 Spokane Valley, WA 99212

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