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Buildings Magazine Contributed Article: “Faulty Doors Can Leave You in a Legal Jam” [Aug. 2010]

John Leighton’s contributed article is published in the August 2010 issue of Buildings Magazine, helping facilities managers to understand their rights and legal duties.

Faulty Doors Can Leave You in a Legal Jam

Learn how faulty or damaged door hardware can turn into a personal injury liability case against you.

by John Leighton

When businesses invite the public onto their premises, the law recognizes a distinct relationship. This relationship imposes a duty on building owners and managers to protect members of the public from harm on their property, whether caused by negligence or by intentional, criminal acts. Facility managers are in the best position to guard against a property’s risk and prevent liability lawsuits.

Why You Are Liable

Inadequate security cases usually involve criminal assaults, such as robberies and sexual assaults, at commercial premises, including office buildings, malls, hotels, apartments, parking garages, and even school dormitories. The law governing these cases is derived from the general principle that those who own or possess property have a duty to protect users from accidental, negligent, and intentional acts of third parties. Owners are also obligated to provide adequate warning or protection against such potential risks.

Premises liability can come into play in incidents involving violent crime assaults due to negligent security, insufficient lighting, dangerous products, faulty or damaged door hardware, and many other causes. Faulty or damaged door hardware compromises the point of entry into your premises, allowing entry to uninvited individuals who could potentially commit a crime and, at worse, harm another individual. The hardware in question could be as crucial as the locking mechanism on a door opened via a key card, such as in a hotel room.

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