Thursday, April 12, 2012

Business Owners' Duties Owed To Customers

Pennsylvania imposes a duty upon business owners to protect their patrons.  Specifically, a business person has a duty to use reasonable care to find out if a customer is being harmed or is likely to be harmed by others on the premises and warn or protect the customer.  If a business owner fails to uphold this duty they are considered by the law to have been negligent.

In these situations, it becomes the responsibility of a jury to decide whether a defendant business owner knew or should have known that there was a likelihood of criminal activity occurring on his/her premises and whether they took reasonable steps to warn or protect the injured patron.  In making this determination, juries are permitted to consider the location and nature of the defendant's business and the defendant's past experience.

Businesses in Pennsylvania need to know the law in this state. An owner of land who holds it open to the public for entry for their business purposes is subject to liability to members of the public while they are upon the land for such purpose, for physical harm caused by the accidental, negligent, or intentionally harmful acts of third persons (or animals), and by the failure of the possessor to exercise reasonable care to (a) discovery that such acts are being done or are likely to be done, or (b) give a warning adequate to enable the visitors to avoid the harm, or otherwise to protect them against it.  Moran v. Valley Forge Drive-In Theater, Inc., 246 A.2d 875 (Pa. 1968).  Keep in mind that this rule only applies where a land owner holds that land open to the general public for entry of business purposes.  Crane v. I.T.E. Circuit Breaker Co., 278 A.2d 362 (Pa 1971).  However, since the land owner is not an insurer of the visitor's safety, he is ordinarily under no duty to exercise any care until he knows or has reason to know that the acts of the third person are occurring or are about to occur.  Moran. Share this post :
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