Building Security

I was mugged while doing laundry in my apartment building. The police never caught the mugger, can I bring a claim for my injuries?

I’m sorry this happened to you. You might have a claim against your landlord for lack of security in your building.

Building security claims are dependent upon where the attack occurred and the status of the attacker. Since you stated the attack occurred while you were doing laundry, I assume this means you were in a common area in the apartment building when the assault occurred. The next step in the legal anaylis would be to determine if your attacker was in the building as a tenant or guest of a tenant. If the attacker was in the apartment building already as a tenant, there is nothing the landlord could do to prevent the crime from occurring. A landlord is not responsible for the criminal acts of a tenant, unless the landlord had notice of the tenants prior bad acts. Finally, if the attacker came from outside the building, we would have to know how the mugger got inside the building. If there were minimal security measures that were not in place, then the landlord would be responsible.

In a recent case decided by the Court of Appeals, the Court found that failure to have working locks on exterior doors was breach of “minimal securty measures.” See Scurry v NYCHA, 2023 Slip Op 02752 decided May 23, 2023. The Court held that the breach of “minimal security measures” means the case should not have been dismissed before trial. The case was allowed to go forward for a trial by jury.

The question really is who was the perpetrator of the assault? If the mugger came from outside the building and there were no “minimal safety measures” in place, you may have a claim against the landlord. If the mugger was one of fellow tenants, you may have a very difficult case. Whatever investigation the police did would be crucial to address this issue.