A recent trend in legal verdicts and settlements shows defendants paying huge sums of money to crime victims who are injured due to the defendant's negligence, according to Daniel F. Monahan, a crime-victim awyer and member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.Monahan applauded the decision of a Miami, Florida, jury that awarded $102 million to Sami Barrak, a nightclub patron who suffered catastrophicnjuries when he was shot in an attempted robbery five years ago.
'The jury's $102 million verdict, the largest-ever jury award for a negligent security case, shows the public has no patienceor defendants who won't project people they invite onto their premises,' observes Monahan.
'In this case, the defendant company that owns the nightclub provided no security despite 26 violent crimes that had been reported on the same property during the seven years before Mr. Barrak's injuries.
'Most customers don't realize they can recover damages from the company or person whose negligence resulted in their injury, says Monahan.
'A Pittsburgh jury awarded $200, 000 to a man for facial scars caused by a punch in the face with 'brass knuckles' outside a restaurant/bar in McKeesport,' he says.
'In another case, a management company settled with a crime victim for $1, 000, 000 after the manager of a store killed by a robber.' Monahan said the victim's estate claimed that the shopping center lacked adequate lighting, security personnel, and rear door alarms.
And in yet another lawsuit, on appeal, he says the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld a jury's verdict in the amount of $1, 569, 000, of which $1, 050, 000 was for punitive damages in favor of a minor who was sexually molested by a Catholic priest.
Monahan says victims injured during the commission of a crime can sue two types of defendants:-
The offenders who committed the crime, and anyone who helped them, such as look-outs and drivers, even if they were found 'not guilty' by a Pennsylvania criminal court; and
The third-party people or companies that may have contributed to or made it easier for the criminal offenders. For example, third-party defendants may be:-
Landlords who failed to provide adequate security, such as locks on doors and windows and adequate lighting;- Colleges that failed to provide adequate security for students or failed to notify students of campus assaults, leaving students at risk;-
Shopping malls that did not hire security guards or take other necessary measures, even when it was likely that criminals would attack customers;-
People who allowed childangerous instruments when the children, in turn used the weapons to injure other people;-
Schools, churches and child-care centers that did not properly check the backgrounds of their employees, or simply transferred empoyees to other locations following allegations of abuse; or-
Tavern owners or social hosts who continued to serve alcohol to intoxicated persons who later injured other people in drunk driving accidents.
Since the criminal's conduct is usually intentional, Monahan says he would not be covered by his own insurance, such as a homeowner's policy. 'But in the case of third parties, the basis for the lawsuit is some type of negligence. Third parties in Pennsylvania usually have insurance their policies will pay if they are found legally liable.
'He advises, 'This is why, if you're the victim of a crime in Pennsylvania, it's important that you not give up. You may have several avenues by which you can collect large amounts of money for your property, injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering.
'Monahan represents victims who have been injured during the commission of a crime. He has just written and published a Crime Victim's Guide to Recovering Damages for Your Injuries, which he offers free by e-mail to anyone who calls his office at 610-363-3888 or e-mails Dmonahan@monahan-lawpractice.com