Businesses have a legal duty to keep their premises reasonably safe. When business owners, apartment complexes, resorts, or retail locations fail to use reasonably safe security practices, victims have a right to bring a negligent security lawsuit against them. We will discuss five examples of negligent security lawsuits below.
Police are searching for a suspect after a victim came forward to report a sexual assault that occurred in the stairwell of her apartment complex. A second victim came forward to report a similar type of sexual assault that happened in the same stairwell. During both assaults, the suspect allegedly lured the apartment complex victims through social media chat rooms.
The suspect waited until the women were in the stairwell and sexually assaulted them. Unfortunately, sexual assaults that occur in apartment complexes and parking lots are far too common. When a property owner fails to keep visitors and customers safe, the owner may be financially responsible for injuries that result from their negligent security practices.
Property Owners Can be Held Liable for Negligent Security Practices
Under Georgia law, property owners owe people who enter their property a duty of reasonable care. They must keep their guests reasonably safe under the circumstances. Many office buildings, retail locations, and apartment complexes have installed cameras, security systems, lights, and even security personnel to prevent crime from occurring on their property. However, when property owners do not take reasonable steps to make their property safe, and their failure to keep their property safe results in someone becoming injured, the owners can be held liable. Victims of negligent security can bring premises liability lawsuits against the owner of the property.
Examples of Negligent Security
Business owners must have reasonable safety and security measures in place to protect guests and customers who enter their property. Common examples of negligent security include the following:
- Failing to maintain the appearance of an establishment
- Failing to fix broken physical barriers to crime, including gates, fences, doors, or locks
- Failing to provide security guards who are properly trained or a security patrol
- Failing to provide adequate lighting in dark areas, such as parking lots and stairwells
- Failing to quickly respond to an emergency call or a security alert on the premises
- Failing to warn residents or visitors about known dangers and risks
- Failing to install security cameras
- Failing to monitor security camera footage properly
Georgia Property Owners Have a Legal Duty to Keep Their Premises Safe
Lawsuits that allege that a landowner or manager fails to provide adequate security, causing the victim’s injuries, are called premises liability lawsuits. The tort of premises liability alleges that the property owner’s negligent security practices led to the guest or residence injuries. Victims of negligent security must prove a specific set of legal elements to obtain compensation from the property owner.
For example, in the case mentioned above, the young women who were assaulted in the apartment stairwell would need to prove certain elements to win a lawsuit against the apartment complex’s owner. They would need to prove that their injuries were caused by the apartment complex owner’s failure to provide adequate security measures. When landowners have reason to believe that their premises are unsafe, they have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent similar injuries from occurring in the future.
Elements the Plaintiff Must Prove
Plaintiffs must prove several elements to succeed in a negligent security lawsuit. All property owners have a legal responsibility, or duty, to protect visitors who come to their land. However, the specific duty they owe visitors depends on the classification of the visitor. Landowners do not owe trespassers the same type of legal duty that they owe their guests. Georgia law recognizes three different classifications of visitors to an owner’s property. Each of these classifications determine the specific duties owed by the landowner to keep visitors safe. Plain toast and negligent security cases must prove the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The plaintiff entered the land with the property owner’s permission. For example, the plaintiff could be a shopper in a retail store, a customer in an office complex, a customer in a bar or restaurant, or a tenant or visitor in an apartment complex.
- The plaintiff must also prove that he or she became injured due to the owner’s inadequate or negligent security measures. The plaintiff must provide evidence that a negligent security measure was one of the approximate causes of his or her injuries.
- The plaintiff must also prove that he or she suffered damages from the injuries caused by the owner’s negligent security. The plaintiff will need to provide evidence of any medical costs associated with the injury and how much money the plaintiff lost from missing time at work. A plaintiff can also recover money for the mental anguish that they endure due to the incident.
Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers
People who have received an invitation to enter the land are entitled to the owner’s highest duty of care. These types of visors are known as invitees. Landowners must exercise reasonable care and keep their premises safe to protect invitees. The other two classifications of visitors are licensees and trespassers. Landowners must refrain from intentionally or recklessly causing licensees and trespassers harm.
It is rare that landowners intentionally cause a licensee or trespasser intentional harm through negligent security. For this reason, most negligent security lawsuits are brought by people who are classified as invitees. Landowners must use reasonable care to protect invitees from dangerous conditions on their property. They must make sure their property is safe and take reasonable measures to prevent criminal activity from other people.
Contact a Georgia Negligent Security Lawyer Today
If you or your loved one became injured due to a property owner’s negligent security practices, you might be entitled to compensation. Attorney James A. Rice has helped many Georgia clients recover the compensation they deserve for their premises liability injuries. The sooner you speak to an experienced attorney about your case, the better. Contact him today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn how he can fight for your rights.
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This is a question that I am often asked particularly after a car accident. Medical payments coverage which is often referred to as “medpay” is offered by your insurance company in different delineations typically $1,000.00, $5,000.00, $10,000.00, etc. Compared to other policy premiums, medpay is relatively inexpensive.
Why use Medpay?
Medpay’s purpose is to pay for your medical bills resulting from an accident. There are several reasons to purchase medpay.
- First, it is not expensive.
- Second, it acts either as an excellent supplement to ever increasing healthcare costs such that you can pay for your deductible, co-pay, etc. and receive reimbursement for same.
If you do not have health insurance, it can be used to pay for all of your medical bills up to the amount of the medical payments coverage.
Is there any downside to medpay?
Not that I see. Rarely, an insurance company will asked to be reimbursed from any settlement. However, an experienced lawyer can address that during the settlement of the case and it should be resolved without any reimbursement whatsoever. See O.C.G.A. § 34-24-56.1.
Medpay is an excellent product and an excellent supplement to any health insurance policy. If you do not have health insurance, it is even more important to have medpay. Talk with your agent, determine how much medpay coverage is reasonable to get and I always suggest that you have at least $5,000.00 but I have seen clients with up to $50,000.00 in medpay benefits. They have been greatly protected while allowing them to seek the healthcare they need.
Can my lease prevent me from filing a negligent security case?
Most apartments use standard leases which have provisions that they may use to try to prevent you from filing a lawsuit for landlord liability if your loved one has been sexually assaulted, shot, murdered, etc. These are often referred to as exculpatory clauses. Exculpatory evidence is favorable to the defendant in a criminal trial, which is why landlords prefer them, hoping it will except them from landlord liability claims or lawsuits.
Although the insurance carrier’s lawyer will often use these in an effort to defeat a claim, the Georgia Supreme Court has held that such clauses are unenforceable as they are against public policy.
Negligent Security vs. a Place to Live
We have all rented apartments and know the drill. Typically, there is an inexperienced leasing agent who simply asks you to “check here, check here” through multiple lease documents. It is rare that anyone reads the lease and even rarer that it is explained to you. In fact, most people will say that the leasing agent presses you to simply sign and move forward with the other documents that need to be signed.
So what happens if you have a claim or need a lawyer, but you signed the lease?
First, don’t panic. Any exculpatory clause is likely unenforceable against you, but nonetheless, the insurance carrier may tell you otherwise. Second, speak to an experienced negligent security lawyer who handles cases involving the negligence of an apartment, mall or other business with insufficient security. That lawyer will likely explain to you the likelihood that such clauses are unenforceable.
Do you still have to sign the lease??
That decision will always be yours and certainly whether or not the apartment will allow you to enter into a lease without that specific provision is doubtful. However, an apartment owner cannot abolish their own duty to keep the premises safe through a lease. The landlord has a duty under Georgia law to keep the premises safe for you, or suffer landlord liability. Certainly, we all understand all crime in all places cannot be prevented. However, an apartment and its management company should do everything reasonable to keep it safe for you. Simply putting in a provision in a lease cannot allow them to escape liability!