Shopping malls are a collection of retail stores built in a uniform scheme with parking places.  People are sometimes injured in shopping malls for a variety of reasons, and want to recover for their damages.

What Duties Does the Mall Owner Have?

A mall owner must maintain the premises as well as the approaches and entrances to the premises so as to keep it free from unreasonable dangers.  The mall owner has a duty to keep visitors safe whether or not they buy anything at the mall.  If he is negligent in his duty, and allows an unreasonably dangerous condition to exist at the mall, he is liable for injuries that result.  

For example, the mall owner is liable for defects in places where people walk that cause someone to slip and fall if he failed to warn people of the danger or repair it.  Additionally, some places impose duties on shopping malls through statutes.  For example, some statutes require safe approaches to the mall or safe employment areas for employees. 

Who Is Liable if I am Injured at a Shopping Mall?

If you are injured in a common area in the mall, or parking lot outside the mall, the shopping mall owner is usually liable for your injuries, unless the terms of a lease make store owners responsible for common areas near their store.  If you are injured inside of a store, the store owner, not the mall, is most likely liable for your injuries.  

What If a Crime Happens to Me at the Mall?

In general, the owner of a mall has no duty to protect people from unanticipated criminal attacks that occur within the mall.  However, if the criminal act can be reasonably anticipated, the mall may be liable.  For example, there may be a history of crime in the mall.  Note that it is not enough to just show that the mall is in a high crime area or that other crimes have happened in the general area.  You must also show that the mall owner failed to exercise reasonable care in protecting you.  For example, the owner may be liable if:

  • The security guards at the mall were negligent.
  • There were not enough security guards at the mall.
  • The lighting was inadequate in the parking lot.

What Limits on Liability are There?

The negligence of the mall owner must cause the injury and not some other unforeseen event.  Also, the owner is only responsible for unreasonable risks.  That means that the owner does not have to fix every possible dangerous condition.  If the condition is so obvious that everyone should know to avoid it, then there is no liability.  Furthermore, if the defect did not exist long enough for the owner to possibly discover it, there is no liability.  Contributory negligence and assumption of risk may also limit recovery. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer If I Have Been Injured at a Shopping Mall?

Recovering damages for injuries caused by a negligent property owner can be complicated and difficult.  An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand how the law impacts your case.  A personal injury lawyer can also file any necessary paperwork and represent you in court.