When you’ve been a victim of crime, you will deal with police and prosecutors to bring the perpetrator to justice in the criminal courts. But as a crime victim, you may have suffered from physical injury, loss of property, mental anguish, and psychological disturbance. Maybe a family member has been killed in a homicide. How can you make yourself whole again?

Many crime victims don’t realize that when a crime occurs on someone else’s premises, the owner of the property is responsible to maintain the premises in a proper condition for the safety of people who are legally on the property. If the owner has failed to provide adequate security on the premises, and someone has become a victim of crime, it is sometimes possible to recover damages by bringing a civil action for negligent security.


In most cases a third party can’t be held liable for a crime, but if the property owner can be proven negligent, and the negligence created an environment that made it likely a crime would take place, an experienced premises liability lawyer may be able to help a crime victim receive compensation from the owner.

A crime victim, through his or her lawyer, must prove the same elements that are necessary to recover money in any premises liability case:

  1. The owner owed the victim a duty, i.e. the duty to maintain the property in a safe condition.
  2. The owner or the owner’s employee caused or allowed a dangerous condition on the property.
  3. The owner knew or reasonably should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to correct it.
  4. The dangerous condition caused harm to the victim.
  5. The victim suffered actual losses or damages as a result.

For example, your lawyer will look for evidence that other crimes had taken place in the area, and that in spite of the criminal activity the owner did not take appropriate measures to prevent crime on the property and allowed conditions conducive to crime to persist. These might include, among others, insufficient lighting; open or unlocked gates, doors, or windows; lack of security guards or electronic security, or failure to monitor existing an electronic security system; not performing criminal background checks of employees or contractors allowed on the premises.


In Seattle, Washington, the attorneys at Wattel and York have extensive experience representing crime victims and helping them recover damages when property owners are negligent in securing their premises against criminal activity. This is a specialized area of premises liability law, where civil and criminal law intersect, which not many lawyers handle.

If you have suffered bodily injury and property losses because of a crime, call us to set up a consultation about your case. By holding property owners to their legal responsibility to create an environment that discourages crime, we can help make Washington a safer place for everyone while we help you recover what you have lost.

Because all work is done on a contingency fee basis, state-of-the-art legal representation is available to everyone, regardless of financial status. You pay us nothing, ever, unless we get money for you.