The recent shooting death of 17 year old Travyon Martin in Florida has caused quite a stir. There is evidence on both sides as to who the initial aggressor really was. Some media outlets have reported that George Zimmerman was subject to prior complaints of aggressiveness by other neighborhood home owners. Other outlets have reported that Martin had problems at school and are painting him as the initial aggressor.
Under Pennsylvania law, a neighborhood association could be held liable for injuries or death caused by a member, if (1) the incident occurred during an official neighborhood watch, and (2) the association had reason to suspect that the member was aggressive.
This type of liability is similar to the liability of an employer for negligently hiring or retaining an overly aggressive employee who injures another person while on the job. If that employer had knowledge of the employee's dangerousness and then the employee caused injury to another person while on the job, the employer would likely be liable in a subsequent lawsuit.
In addition to liability of the neighborhood association, the member/shooter would also face civil liability. Of course, the next natural question is whether there would be any source of financial recovery.
Many neighborhood associations are actual business entities and some may have insurance policies, which would apply to such a situation. The member/shooter may also have a source of insurance coverage. For instance, his own homeowners insurance policy or a renters insurance policy could apply. Under Pennsylvania law, a homeowners or renters insurance policy may apply in situations where an insured acts negligently. There is usually no requirement that the incident happen on the insured property. In other words, the insurance policy covers the insured no matter where he is.
If you'd like to talk to one of our Pennsylvania and New Jersey premises liability lawyers, call 877.944.8396 for a free consultation.
**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case.