In Massachusetts, residential and commercial property owners have the responsibility to keep their property in a safe condition for visitors. This includes tenants, customers, and almost anyone who is lawfully on the property. Not doing so may result in negligent supervision.
In addition to being obliged to keep the property in a safe physical condition, this obligation may also require property owners to keep the property secure, including providing adequate security, lighting, and other safety features so that visitors to their property are not subject to assault, attack, theft, personal injury from attack and other types of crimes. A visitor has the right to enter onto property which is maintained in a safe and secure manner, otherwise, the property owner may be exposed to negligent supervision issues.
Negligent security can lead to serious injuries that can result from broken windows, broken door locks, defective or faulty surveillance cameras, and absent or negligent personnel. All of these can be considered some form of negligent supervision. Daytime and nighttime considerations often factor into negligent supervision litigation. The effectiveness of security or surveillance cameras, the actions of security personnel and the physical aspects of the property, such as whether windows and doors are secure, are all common factors in security-related negligent supervision.
Prior attacks, prior crimes, and prior complaints of negligent security are also common issues litigated in these types of negligent supervision claims. Criminal activity in or around the premises is also a common issue litigated in negligent security claims. With the possibility of murder, rape, indecent assault and battery and other types of crime which can take place on the premises, the obligation to maintain premise safety is very important.
In assessing these type of negligent supervision claims, it is imperative to inquire whether a possible responsible party has liability insurance which would provide coverage to an injured individual, including without regard as to whether there are other type of benefits which would provide for the payment of medical bills. Even if this type of insurance is not available, the property owner may still be subject to personally compensating an injured party.
Often property owners will have previously deeded the property to a business entity such as a business trust. The simple deeding of the property to another entity does not necessarily protect the responsible party from an attachment in order to satisfy a judgment. A specific inquiry must be made into this type of entity in order to determine whether such a document, such as a trust, in fact provides the property owner with protection — it may not, depending upon the circumstances. A full and complete investigation must be made into any entity which owns the property when there is insufficient or no insurance available.