Robbed at gunpoint at Texaco is the gas station responsible?

Recently on our forum a user asked, “I won $7,000 in a lottery. I got my money and left the gas station, and I was robbed at gunpoint. The robber took all of my money. Is the Texaco gas station liable in any way for the robbery?”

Criminal vs. Civil Issues

Given the situation you described, there are two issues to consider. First, you have been the victim of a crime, which means it’s important that you contact the police and file a criminal report. The police will then investigate the crime, find evidence to support your criminal complaint, and hopefully catch the perpetrator.

The second issue, which is really what you are asking about, is whether or not the Texaco station can be held civilly liable for your injuries. If the answer is yes, then you could file a civil claim against the gas station, and assuming you won your civil lawsuit, Texaco would have to pay you compensation for your injuries or loss.

Premise Liability law

To find out your rights and whether or not you have a case against Texaco it’s best to talk to a personal injury attorney who understands premise injury law, but let’s discuss the basics of the issues.

First, what you have described falls under the purview of Negligent Security Law. Under this notion a commercial establishment has the legal responsibility to maintain their property to ensure that patrons on their property are reasonably safe.

So the first question to answer is whether or not the property owner knew or should have known about the potential for criminal activity on their premises.

For example, if there have consistently been robberies, assaults, attacks, and shootings in close proximity or on the property, the property owner would have the reasonable expectation that a crime could occur again near or on their property and take reasonable steps to protect patrons. The station owner’s duty to protect can be higher if this specific gas station has been the target of more criminal activity than other gas stations in the area.

Common reasonable steps to ensure patrons safety could include:

So what might be reasonable steps to make sure you were safe?

-More security guards
-More video surveillance
-More lighting
-Installing low hedges to make it more difficult for persons to cross the property
-Putting cashiers behind bullet proof glass
-Locking the doors after a specified time
-Hiring security guards to guard the pumps
-Shutting the gas station down early
-Installing an alarm system

Investigating your premise liability claim

Now that we understand what duty the gas station owner may have owed you, you need to determine whether the gas station breached their duty of care. To determine this you will need to talk to a premise liability lawyer to find out if this gas station was in a particularly dangerous part of town and whether or not the gas station owner knew or should have known about the dangers.

Review crime grids, which identify criminal activity in cities to find if the owner should have been aware of the dangers. If the owner did know about the dangers, you and your lawyer could review what actions the owner had taken to make patrons safe.

Next, it’s important to review whether there have been previous crimes reported on the property in the past. If there has been criminal activity it’s important to review whether this gas station followed established or internal business standards for making patrons safe. For example, in a hotel it’s standard procedure not to announce the room number for guests.

Can I win a civil case?

Now, let’s go back to the question about your civil claim. Wining a civil lawsuit requires you to prove certain elements of your claim: duty, breach of duty, proximate cause of injury, and injury.

Above, we discussed the issue of duty, which includes the duty of the store owner to take reasonable steps to keep patrons safe. If the storeowner did not take reasonable steps, even though they had foreseeable knowledge that an injury was likely to occur, you may be able to prove breach of duty.

Next, you will have to prove that their negligence was the proximate cause of your injury, which means if they had not been negligent your injuries would not have occurred.

Finally, you must prove injury or loss. Proving loss is easy: you had $7,000 and now you don’t. You may also be entitled to some compensation for the pain, suffering, or trauma from the case.

Bottom Line:

Whether or not the store owner is liable for your loss and injuries will depend on all the factors discussed above. Talk to a premise liability lawyer for more information about your case. Keep in mind, injury lawyers only get paid if you win your case and may not be willing to take cases where the payout is likely to be low.

Finally, don’t forget to talk to the police and see if they can locate the robber. It could be easier to find the robber, get your money back, and sue him for injury.

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