Sexual Assault and Premise Liability

It’s a Saturday night, and you’ve had a busy evening. You did some shopping at the mall, and then grabbed drinks and dinner with friends at the food court. By the time you’re ready to leave, it’s getting dark outside. With keys and your shopping bags in hand, you make your way through the dimly lit parking garage. Suddenly, you notice a few people lurking in the corner of the parking garage. They make you uneasy, especially with the lack of bright lights or security cameras. As you walk toward your car, one of the people follows you, looking menacing. You manage to jump in your car and drive off, your heart pounding. You wonder what might have happened if they had caught up to you.

Sometimes, people aren’t so lucky. In fact:

Many people are divided on how to confront the rape epidemic in the United States. Some people argue for better sex education, while others argue for a focus on abstinence. Some say that women should dress less provocatively to deter rapists, while others believe that the effects of the patriarchy and toxic masculinity are to blame.

The Role of Premise Liability

But all can agree, perhaps, that better security can help prevent rape and sexual assault. There are a variety of premises issues that may contribute to rape or sexual assault, including:

  • Lack of security guards or security surveillance equipment
  • Poor lighting
  • Unlocked security gates
  • Ignored requests for increased security
  • Inadequate hiring practices or employee screening
  • Poor installation of security alarms
  • Ineffective keys sharing policies

When an accident happens on someone else’s property, it may be a premise liability issue. When someone enters a store or establishment, or even visits a friend’s house, the property owner has a duty to keep them safe. If a foreseeable danger results in an injury, the property owner may be liable, as they should have done something to fix the issue.

This idea also applies to sexual assault. If a property owner notices a dangerous flaw, like bad lighting or an unlocked gate, it is up to them to fix it. When someone complains about an issue, the owner has a particularly significant duty to remedy the issue.

Steps To Prevention

There are steps you can take to prevent a sexual assault or other violent incident, including:

  • Having a friend or security office walk you to your vehicle
  • Telling an employee or security office if someone is making you uncomfortable in a public area
  • Trusting your instincts
  • Watching your drink when at a bar or party
  • Never hesitating to call 911 if you are in danger or see someone else who is in danger

While your own actions and choices may reduce the chances of a sexual assault, the unfortunate reality is that incidents still happen. If rape, sexual assault, or any other type of violent incident occurs, consider your legal rights against the property where it occurred.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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