Recent Shootings at Safeway and Walmart Raises the Question of How Liable Premises are for Violent Crimes

Just two weeks after 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner stood outside a Safeway in Arizona, fatally shooting six people and injuring 13 others, including US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, another shooter has shot dead two people and injured two others outside a Walmart store in the state of Washington. The two incidents are unrelated. Like everyone else in America, the thoughts and well wishes of our Washington DC injury lawyers are with the injured, the deceased, and their loved ones.

The latest tragic incident happened late today after three sheriff’s deputies arrived at the store to follow up on a bystander’s call that there was a suspicious looking person in the store. When deputies approached a man outside the store he tried to flee before turning around and shooting at them. The male shooter was eventually shot dead in the Walmart parking lot.

Two of the deputies were injured in the shooting. A young female, who is reporting might have been a teenager, later died from her injuries. An investigation is underway to determine what happened.

The question is, will the injured parties and the surviving family members of those killed in both shootings seek personal injury and wrongful death damages from Walmart and Safeway because the violent crimes occurred right outside their doors?

In Washington DC, a property owner can be held liable for DC premises liability if failure to keep the premise safe or other acts of negligence allowed a violent crime to happen there. Other states have similar personal injury laws. Yet in the Arizona Safeway massacre and now the Washington Walmart shooting, how could either department store have anticipated that such horrible incidents would ever occur? Also, in the case of the Arizona shooting, did Safeway provide adequate security at the store while Rep. Gifford hosted her “Congress on Your Corner” there, given that she had received death threats in the past? Whose responsibility was it to provide this security? The answers at this point are unclear.

2 dead, 2 cops hurt in shootout outside Washington state Walmart, CNN, January 23, 2011
Paper: Surveillance video shows Tucson attack, CNN Justice, January 18, 2011
Related Web Resources:
Premises Liability Overview, Justia
Inadequate Security, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog

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