There is a lot of crime in every city, and Georgia’s cities are no exception. In Atlanta, in 2015, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations reported that there were 335,672 incidents of crime. This includes 36,292 incidents of violent crime. If you are ready to discuss your potential case you can reach us at 404-793-0026. We look forward to hearing from you and are here to help. One potential avenue of recovery is a claim against a commercial property owner (such as, an apartment complex, gas station, mall, or business owner) for a crime on their property due to inadequate security measures.
In many instances, a criminal does not have substantial resources and, thus, there is nothing to collect a judgment on.
However, negligent security can provide an avenue for victims of crime, such as victims of shootings or sexual assault, to recover.
What is negligent security?
Under Georgia law, property owners have a duty to exercise ordinary care to keep their premises safe. This duty extends to criminal acts of other people.
In order to protect customers and people on their premises, a business owner is required to take reasonable and necessary steps to prevent criminal acts when one can be reasonably anticipated.
This includes business owners of an apartment complex, condominium building, hotel, motel, bar, nightclub, movie theater, concert arena, sports stadium, medical clinic, parking garage, office building, and hospital to name a few.
Some basic things that we look for in a negligent security case are the following:
- Security Guard. Does the business have a security guard? If so, what are their hours, training, number, and reporting requirements? In many instances, a business needs a trained security professional to deter crime.
- Lighting. What type of lighting does the business have? Adequate lighting is key for deterring criminal acts.
- Entry Points. Does the business have fencing, gates, proper windows, doors? Are there passcodes required to get in the facility? A business that does not have adequate control of entry make it easier for crimes to take place.
- Locks. The type of locks that a business uses are important. This is particularly true in apartment complexes, condominiums, hotels, motels, and high rise buildings. A good lock, which is changed frequently, is essential.
- Cameras. Cameras deter crime and are important for preserving evidence. Ensuring that cameras are appropriately placed is important.
- Training. Adequate training of employees, background checks, and ensuring poor employees are let go. These are steps that businesses should take.
- Alarms. Were there adequate security alarms? An alarm system can be key to stopping violent attacks.
- Other measures. Each negligent security case is different. These are just some of the more common features that we analyze.
What do I have to prove to win a negligent security case?
The general elements of a negligent security claim are as follows. First, you must demonstrate that the security was negligent. This will be based on the items outlined above, the presence or lack thereof of a security guard, alarm, gate, fencing, training, investigation, lighting etc.
Second, you must demonstrate that the crime was reasonably foreseeable. Business owners are only responsible for crimes that can reasonably be anticipated on their property.
An incident is reasonably foreseeable when it is “substantially similar” to prior criminal acts.
Substantially similar means that the type of crime, the location of the crime were such that a reasonable property owner would take precautions to prevent the crime.
Importantly, the crime does not have to be the exact same as the prior crime.
Instead, you are looking for something that would raise the antenna of a reasonable property owner.
In general, to prove this, a good crime victim lawyer will research the criminal conduct on the premises in question.
Through our experience, we are well versed in how to obtain a complete criminal history of crimes on the premises.
Once this information is obtained, we are able to determine through analysis whether or not substantially similar crimes occurred on the property.
Third, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they did not have “equal or superior” knowledge of the potential crime. In general, this element will doom someone who has a knowing participant in the criminal act.
For example, a person attempting to purchase drugs who is shot and killed during the transaction will not have recourse against the property owner.
This is because the purchaser had more knowledge of the potential danger than did the property owner.
Important to proving these elements are the full criminal history on the property, the prior complaints to management, security documentation, and correspondence in the property owners file. These materials can demonstrate whether or not the property owner was aware.
Fourth, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the crime was not due to a personal feud.
In general, Georgia law does not provide recovery for personal disputes between a person and another which ends in violence.
This is similar to the equal or superior knowledge exception.
The injured person knows more about the personal feud than the property owner.
Fifth, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they did not assume the risk of the crime. Assumption of the risk is a legal term meaning that the injured person understood the risk of the crime and engaged in an activity anyway. The drug deal example is a good one.
After proving liability, the crime victim must then demonstrate damages and causation of damages. In a shooting or sexual assault/rape case, the damages are clear and obvious, as is the connection.
The business owner will often argue that the criminal is at fault, not the business owner.
This is ultimately up to the jury to decide.
If I suffer an apartment complex shooting, convenient store shooting, hotel shooting, motel shooting or shooting at another business, do I have a remedy?
You may have a remedy against the business owner, if the crime was reasonably foreseeable and you did not have equal knowledge of its likelihood of happening.
At our firm, we have experience with negligent security cases.
We can help shooting victims get the compensation that they deserve.
If I suffer sexual assault or rape at an apartment complex, convenient store, hotel, motel or other business, do I have a remedy?
There is a potential remedy against the property owner. You must demonstrate that the crime was reasonably foreseeable, security was negligent, as well as the other elements outlined above.
We have recovered millions of dollars as crime victim lawyers in Atlanta.
We can provide a free case consultation for you.
Do I have a good case as a crime victim at an apartment complex, convenient store, hotel, motel or other business?
Negligent security cases are very complex. Whether or not you have a good claim will depend on the facts and circumstances of the crime at issue, the prior criminal activity in the vicinity, and the security measures in place. In order to know whether or not you have a good claim, a knowledgeable crime victim attorney needs to look at it. At our firm, we know the ins and outs of negligent security law.
What types of businesses are responsible for keeping their property safe?
All businesses in Georgia are responsible for taking reasonable precautions to keep their premises safe from reasonably foreseeable hazards. This includes crimes. Some common types of businesses that defend negligent security cases are apartment complexes, condominium buildings, hotels, motels, bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, concert arenas, sports stadiums, medical clinics, parking garages, office buildings, and hospitals to name a few.
What areas do we serve?
We represent clients throughout Georgia.
Here are some example case results:
- We have resolved hundreds of defense cases for at or within our valuation.
- We have recovered millions of dollars for genuinely injured plaintiffs. This includes multiple 7 figure recoveries.