It has been widely reported that people dressing up as clowns have been seen in increasing numbers across the United States. Some of these clowns are now behaving in threatening manners which can and will force owners of public places to be vigilant and could result in them being found negligent for improper security should aggressive and combative clowns injure people lawfully on their premises if improper and inadequate security measures are taken. On a New York City Subway, a 19-year old man was targeted by a knife-wielding clown on a subway platform at 96th Street. According to a report by CBS New York, the man attempted to exit the 6 train at 96th Street when his path was blocked by a clown wielding a large kitchen knife. The man was able to run up the stairs to safety and the clown was not found.

This has created a problem for authorities who are now being forced to take these clowns threats seriously as a potential threat to public safety, particularly at schools.

This also raises serious questions as to the potential liability of the owners of premises open to the public should a person lawfully on those premises be assaulted by a clown. In New York, business owners, landlords, private property owners, and even state and municipal owners of everything from government buildings to parklands and public pools have a duty to provide a safe and secure environment for guests. When they don’t, innocent visitors can be seriously injured or killed. Those injured and the families of those killed have a right to be compensated for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, disability, and other issues arising from the accident.

In New York City, property owners of establishments such as office and apartment buildings, restaurants, schools, and bars have a duty of care to take certain security measures to ensure a safe environment for individuals who are visiting, live, or work on their premises. When an owner fails to take adequate precautions to secure their property, they may be liable for any attacks that result from a lack of security. As a result, individuals who have suffered an injury on a piece of property that is not adequately secured should contact a skilled attorney.

Property owners of places open to the general public have a duty to provide security to the general public against known, foreseeable threats in the area. If clowns are entering the premises on a regular basis, or are seen in the area, acting in a manner which causes the property owner to know or suspect dangerous or criminal activity, the property owner has a duty to take reasonable measures to provide adequate security. At this point, given the environment, clowns may very well be considered a threat to public safety under many circumstances which would require appropriate action by property owners.