Punitive damages claims are available to parties injured due to the negligence of others. In addition, injured parties may make claims for all economic and non-economic damages.
Under Pennsylvania accident and injury law, individuals who are injured due to the negligence of others may be entitled to make claims for what is known as punitive damages.
In Pennsylvania, punitive damages are assessed against the party who act in such a manner that shows a conscious disregard for the health and safety of others. Mere negligence is not enough to meet the standard for punitive damages. Rather, the at-fault party must have engaged in conduct which substantially increased the risk of serious or grave harm.
Punitive damages claims often come into play in specific types of accident and injury cases in Pennsylvania, specifically negligent security lawsuits. Negligent security claims are often filed against any number of businesses such as:
- shopping centers,
- grocery stores, and
- bars, restaurants or clubs.
Basically, negligent security claims maybe filed against any party which fails to provide sufficient security and that failure results in serious injury to another individual.
Below are three hypothetical case scenarios involving negligent security claims.
Example 1, Claim Against a Bar/Restaurant
Someone who is assaulted in a bar, club or restaurant may have a valid lawsuit against the establishment if there is evidence that the establishment was negligent. Common acts of negligence which may subject a bar, club or restaurant to liability include the following:
- failure to secure the premises (including the parking lot),
- failure to provide enough security personnel, and
- negligence in serving alcohol.
Example 2, Claim Against a Mall/Shopping Center
Someone who goes to a mall or shopping center and is victimized by a criminal may have an independent claim against the company which operated the mall as well as other companies, such as a management company and/or a mall security company. The theories of liability in these cases often include:
- failure to provide a reasonably safe environment,
- failure to provide enough security measures, including personnel, lighting, cameras, etc.,
- negligence in management of the premises.
Example 3, Claim Against a Landlord
Tenants and guests of tenants who are injured due to criminal activity may be able to file legal claims against the landlord for failing to provide a secure premises. This usually applies to criminal activity that occurs in common areas, such as parking lots, hallways, etc.
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