In Apartment Security and Litigation: Key Issues, criminalistics expert witness Daniel B. Kennedy writes on the nature of premises liability litigation in an apartment setting:
When landlords fail to take appropriate security measures to provide their tenants reasonable protection against criminal attack, a negligent tort arises. A tort is a “private or civil wrong or injury” (Black, 1968: 1660). In order to prove a tort, the plaintiff must establish that (1) the defendant owed a duty to provide reasonable security, (2) the defendant breached the duty to provide reasonable security, (3) this breach of duty was the cause in fact, and (4) was the foreseeable cause of (5) the plaintiff’s injury (Spain, 1992). Generally, these elements must be proven to a civil jury who will decide whether a defendant is liable according to the level of proof known as “preponderance of the evidence.” In other words, if a jury determines that 51 percent or more of the evidence favors the plaintiff, he or she will win and the landlord will lose.