Who Is Liable if Someone Breaks Into My Gated Community?
When you move into a gated community, you have a reasonable expectation not only of privacy but of safety as well. You pay a premium to live in a gated community to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe from criminal elements, trespassers, and others who might do you harm. If someone breaks into your community and damages your property or even physically harms you or your family, do you have any recourse? Can you hold anyone liable for the damage you’ve suffered?
Continue reading to learn about who may be liable if someone breaks into your gated community and causes you harm. Call a knowledgeable Southern California premises liability attorney at Machtinger Law for advice and assistance if you’ve been hurt on your or someone else’s property in Los Angeles or Orange County.
The Individual Trespasser
It probably goes without saying, but if someone deliberately injures you or harms your property through criminal activity, you can hold that person liable. Civil liability is separate from criminal liability, so you can sue someone for your injuries regardless of whether they are convicted and sent to jail. Even if the criminal charges are dropped, you can still sue them in civil court for personal injury damages.
Folks who break into gated communities do not typically have the deepest pockets, however, so it’s likely they will lack the funds to repay you for the harm they’ve caused.
The Property Owner/Manager
The owner or manager of your gated community has a responsibility to keep your home safe. The promise of a gated community is that you are protected by a certain level of security, whether that includes the gate, locked fences, security guards, security cameras, or other measures. Your lease, contract, or other governing documents will dictate what level of security you can expect, and whether you have the right to bring a claim should that security fail.
In particular, if someone was able to break in because of a failure of the security measures maintained by the owner or manager–the gate was broken, the doors weren’t locked, the guard was asleep, etc.–and the residents were not apprised of the security lapses, then you could have a claim against the owner or manager for their failure to keep your home safe from intruders.
Landlord for Individual Unit
If you are renting your house or apartment from an individual owner or a real estate company, they are responsible for ensuring that your unit is fit to inhabit. There’s a longstanding principle of law that landlords are responsible for common areas under their control, including security in those areas. If there’s a hazard in a common area controlled by the landlord–such as broken locks or missing doors–the landlord is responsible for fixing the problem and liable should harm result from those hazards. If the trespasser broke into your home because of lax security, broken or missing locks, or other negligence on the part of your landlord, then you might have a claim against the landlord for the harm you have suffered.
If your gate and other security measures are maintained by a third-party maintenance company, and they made a mistake that exposed you and others in your community to trespassers and criminals, then you could have a claim against that maintenance or security company.
Identifying all responsible parties and building a case that proves each party’s liability for the harm or damage caused requires skill and tenacity from a dedicated and experienced personal injury lawyer.
Call Today for Seasoned Representation and Trusted Advice After a Personal Injury in Los Angeles or Orange County
If you or a loved one was hurt on unsafe premises or otherwise through someone else’s negligence in Los Angeles or Orange County, call Machtinger Law for advice and representation from a dedicated, diligent Southern California personal injury attorney.