If my father was assaulted in a parking lot, is the store liable?

UPDATED: Sep 9, 2011

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If my father was assaulted in a parking lot, is the store liable?

A man punched him and broke his jaw in 4 places, his nose, and a bone in his mouth.All of this was over a parking space. Since this happened in the parking lot of a national retail chain and security did not respond during the altercation, would the store have any responsibility in helping to pay the medical bills, etc.? He had to have surgery the next morning and has at least 1 more to endure in 8 weeks.

Asked on September 9, 2011 under Personal Injury, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It is *possible* that the store would be liable, but unlikely. Liability depends on fault, or acting wrongly, whether intentionally or through carelessness (negligence). Store security is not the police; it is not at all clear that they have a duty to respond to an argument betwen patrons in the parking lot (even if they were aware of it) and head it off before it escalates to violence; even if they had a duty, unless they were aware of both the incident and the potential to escalate, they would not be at fault for not intervening. If the man who hit your father was a store employee, the store would be liable; or if there had been earlier problems with him that day, so that the store might on notice that he was causing problems, they have been negligent in not acting. Without that, it is very unlikely that the store is liable for what a person unconnected to it did, without prior warning, in the parking lot.

You can, of course, sue the man who hit your father--he is clearly at fault.

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