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Attacked at an ATM? Who is responsible?

Today, practically everyone does their banking online. We pay our bills using a bank app or website, and when we need money, we head to the nearest ATM to enter a code and receive the cash.

This practice may be routine, but it’s not always safe. A year ago this month, a 50-year-old man attacked an 87-year-old professor at an ATM outside a Citibank on Broadway, stole $300 from him, and beat him into a coma. A few days earlier, a robber attacked a man at an indoor Bank of American ATM and stole his wallet. The victim required hospital treatment for his injuries.

When consumers are injured at ATMs, who is responsible?

Banks may be held liable for these types of attacks if they fail to take reasonable steps to protect bank machine users. New York’s ATM law (PDF), which applies to any state or federally-chartered bank, credit union, trust company, or savings and loan association, requires the following security measures:

  • Adequate lighting around the machines. ATMs inside a building must have 24-hour lighting.
  • Surveillance cameras. The institution must keep the recordings for a minimum of 45 days.
  • An entry door with a locking device for indoor ATMs. The door must only open for someone using a card or another similar device.
  • Reflective mirrors that allow users to see around them in the vestibule.
  • Signage indicating that the facility is being recorded; that customers should close the entry door completely and not allow strangers to enter outside of banking hours; that customers should secure any cash they withdraw before leaving, and where they may make complaints regarding security.

It is important to note that these rules do not apply to unenclosed ATMs that are:

  • In spaces not related to banking, such as convenience stores and shopping malls
  • Used only during the space’s regular hours of operation.

If lighting around an ATM was poor or the vestibule lock was broken and the bank failed to address the security hazard, then you may have a claim against the institution if you are attacked and injured. This is because such an incident is foreseeable under the circumstances.

In the case of Lechmanski v. Marine Midland Bank (1999), the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court held that ATM owners are obligated to take reasonable steps to keep its premises safe if it knows or should have known that users were likely to be at risk from third parties.

If you are attacked and injured while using a bank ATM, then contact a New York personal injury attorney to confirm whether you have a case. When a financial institution does not make its facility safe for users, it could be ordered to compensate you.

Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx personal injury attorney with over 35 years of legal experience. He has helped clients recover millions of dollars in compensation for their injuries. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-person initial consultations. You may reach his office at 718-329-9500.

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