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How to Determine if You Have a Negligent Security Claim

Dark alleyway, symbolizing concept of negligent security.

When we walk into a hotel, restaurant, business, or another location, we have the right to expect that the property owner has kept their property reasonably safe. When innocent people become injured as the victims of crimes on other people’s property, they may have a right to pursue a negligent security lawsuit against the property owner. 

To bring a negligent security lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner failed to protect them from a foreseeable injury. If you have been injured on another person’s property and the accident was not your fault, you may have a valid negligent security claim for compensation.

What is a Negligent Security Claim?

When property owners fail to secure their land or facilities against dangerous criminals, the victim of the crime may have a civil claim for compensation against the property owner. Victims of crimes on other people’s property may be able to obtain damages for their past and future medical treatment and other losses they have suffered because of the injurious crime. Some of the most common types of crimes involved in negligent security claims include assault, rape, and armed robbery.

Common Examples of Negligence Security That Contributes to Criminal Activity 

Property owners have a legal obligation to keep their properties reasonably safe for people who come on to them. Criminal activity can occur when property owners fail to keep their properties reasonably safe, and innocent victims can become seriously injured. Some examples of negligence that could lead to negligence security injuries include the following:

  • Open or broken locks
  • Open gates
  • Lack of security guards or forces
  • Lack of security precautions or practices in enclosed areas
  • Failure to reasonably screen employees for past criminal history
  • Failing to monitor or simply lacking an electronic security system
  • Not installing, monitoring, or maintaining security cameras
  • Poor or non-existing lighting in stairways, hallways, parking lots, or other potentially dangerous areas

Some of the measures property owners can take to avoid foreseeable criminal activities include:

  • Installing proper lighting in dangerous areas
  • Locking windows and doors, when appropriate
  • Installing and monitoring security cameras
  • Maintaining property regularly and keeping security measures up-to-date
  • Gating entrances with gates that close automatically
  • Employing security guards

Where Do Negligent Security Cases Happen?

Unfortunately, criminal activity can happen anywhere, even in relatively safe areas. Anytime someone becomes injured on another person’s property due to a foreseeable crime, a negligence security incident has occurred. Some of the most common locations that result in negligent security cases arise out of the following areas:

  • Parking garages
  • Alleyways in between businesses
  • Apartment complexes
  • Hotels
  • Parking lots
  • Nightclubs and bars
  • College campuses
  • Bus stops

Can I Sue a Parking Garage for Negligent Security?

Georgia parking lot owners have a legal responsibility to take reasonable steps to keep their guests and customer safe while they are using and accessing the parking lot. This includes taking steps to prevent assault or tax that are foreseeable. Suppose you have been the victim of a crime that happened at a parking lot because the parking lot owner or parking garage owner failed to provide adequate security. In that case, you may have a valid negligent security claim for compensation. Proving liability depends on the individual case, but in general, a parking garage owner can be held responsible if they fail to do any of the following:

  • Maintain functional lighting, such as repairing broken light fixtures and replacing burned-out bulbs
  • Provide sufficient lighting so customers do not have to walk through dark areas of parking garages that could be unsafe
  • Warn parking garage users about foreseeable dangers
  • Repair doors, fences, gates, and alarm systems
  • Respond appropriately to warnings, alerts, threats, and other situations that would cause a reasonable person to have security concerns
  • Install security cameras, especially if the parking lot or garage is in a high crime area or there has already been an adverse security event such as a mugging or an assault
  • Upgrade existing security devices and protocols if multiple criminal acts occur in or around the parking garage

Can I Sue an Apartment Complex for Negligent Security?

Every individual has the right to feel a sense of security in their own home. If you were a tenant renting an apartment building, you have specific rights to be reasonably protected from crime and other dangerous conditions in your apartment complex.

Landlords owe their tenants, and their tenants guess irresponsibility to keep them safe. The installation of security measures helps protect residences from criminal activities, such as burglary, assault, and other violent criminal acts. Burglaries in apartment complexes and rental properties account for a significant percentage of all burglaries in the United States. Criminal acts in apartment complexes and other rental properties continue to be a threat to renters.

Keeping tenants safe can involve providing them with well-lit parking lots, adequate door locks, and video surveillance measures. It can also mean ensuring that other tenants renting do not have a criminal past. A landlord should ensure tenants are not conducting criminal activity while on their premises. For example, if a landlord knows that a tenant is dealing drugs and does nothing to stop it, they could be held liable through a negligent security case.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Represent Me?

If you have been injured in a crime, talking to an attorney may be the last thing on your mind. You may be in the hospital or recovering from painful, serious injuries. However, speaking to an attorney is crucial. You only have a limited amount of time to pursue a claim for compensation. If you wait too long to talk to an attorney, important evidence in your case could begin to disappear or become unavailable. When you speak to an attorney quickly after the incident, 

Your attorney can begin tracking down and interviewing witnesses, recovering the police report, and gathering important evidence that may be harder to find the more time passes after the incident. You may begin receiving phone calls from insurance adjusters trying to pressure you to settle your case. 

The last thing you need to deal with is insurance adjusters pressuring you to take a far too-low offer. An attorney can level the playing field and handle all communication with the insurance adjuster and the defendant. An attorney can also ensure you develop an effective legal strategy, giving you the best chance possible to obtain the full and fair compensation you need and deserve. 

How to Prove Negligent Security in an Apartment Complex Case

If a criminal act has injured you or your loved one in your apartment complex or rental, you can pursue a negligent security lawsuit against your landowner. You must prove that your landlord did not take reasonable measures to ensure your protection, resulting in a criminal attack that led to your injuries. In negligent security cases involving apartment complexes, many factors can determine whether a crime was foreseeable on a residential property or not, including the following:

  • Whether there was a previous criminal attack on the premises that the landlord was aware of and did not provide updated security measures
  • Whether the landlord failed to discuss the previous criminal attacks on the premises with the tenants
  • Whether the complex is in a neighborhood with high crime levels

The lack of adequate security measures in an apartment complex can lead to violent attacks such as shootings, salts, and theft. If you have been injured in a crime that happened in your apartment complex or other rental location, it is crucial that you reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. 

Failure to Protect Residents or Guests From Dangerous Visitors

Many criminal activities resulting from injuries happen when landlords fail to protect their guests and residents from dangerous visitors. Property owners can be held liable when they do not ensure they are preventing illegal acts that could facilitate one visitor harming another. For example, if one guest at a bar has been over-served alcohol and is obviously intoxicated. Still, if servers continue to bring them drinks, the bar can be held responsible for continuing to serve the guest if a fight breaks out and the guest injures someone while intoxicated.

Similarly, hotel owners have a duty to keep their guests reasonably safe from foreseeable harm. For example, suppose someone comes onto the hotel property and acts erratically and dangerously. In that case, the hotel is responsible for calling law enforcement and dealing with the threat instead of ignoring it. If the erratic individual goes on to harm one of the guests at the hotel, the victim will likely be able to recover compensation from the hotel owner.

Broken or Missing Security Elements

In addition to installing security measures, landlords should ensure that the security measures are well-maintained and not broken. For example, suppose the landlord of an apartment complex knows that the security fence has been broken and needs repair for months. In that case, they can be held liable if a criminal enters the property through the broken fence and injures someone at the property. 

Similarly, if an apartment complex has large lights that keep the parking lot well-lit, but one or more of those lights is broken, and a crime occurs, the landlord may be financially responsible for the victim’s injuries. Another example would be a deadbolt lock in a hotel room not working because it is broken. If a criminal unlawfully breaks into a guest room and steals from them or assaults them, the victim could hold the property owner responsible for negligent security.

The Elements Plaintiffs Must Prove to Establish a Negligent Security Claim

To succeed in a negligent security case in Georgia, you must prove several elements by providing evidence. The three main elements you will need to prove to win a negligent security case are as follows:

  • The property owner or manager was legally required to provide adequate security at the location you were insured
  • The defendant failed to provide reasonable security measures to prevent foreseeable criminal activity
  • Your injuries resulted because of the defend ant’s inadequate security measures

Proving That a Foreseeable Criminal Activity Occurred

Property owners are not required to prevent every conceivable type of criminal activity on their property. However, they do have an obligation to put measures in place to prevent foreseeable criminal activities. Proving a negligent security case frequently comes down to proving that the criminal activity that happened to you was foreseeable. 

Property owners have a legal obligation to consider and act in ways that protect their customers, clients, guests, or others who are legally on their property from threats to their safety while they are on their property. For example, suppose there is a history of criminal activity in the parking lot of an apartment complex. It would be reasonable to assume that a similar criminal activity in the future could harm someone in the parking lot. 

If the property owner fails to increase protection and safety against a known threat, victims can hold them liable for their damages. An experienced attorney can help you investigate and uncover whether the previous criminal activity at or around the premises had occurred. Even if there is evidence of prior crimes in the area where you were injured, you maybe be able to prove that the owner had “constructive” knowledge that an incident may occur.

Proving an Actual Harm Occurred

To recover compensation after a crime is committed on someone else’s property, the victim needs to prove that they have suffered actual harm. A successful legal claim for negligent security requires some type of actual physical injury. For example, if a victim had a close call but managed to escape the situation without being physically injured, they would not be able to get damages from the parking garage. However, suppose the incident leaves you with actual injuries. In that case, you have a right to bring a lawsuit against the parking garage owner for your losses because of negligent security.

Protecting Your Legal Claim for Compensation

The steps you take after being injured in a negligent security case can help or hurt your claim for compensation. After you have been injured, you should call 911 and ask for an ambulance and for a police officer to come to the scene of the incident. The police officer will write a police report including information about the crime. The police report can help you prove that a criminal incident occurred and caused your injuries. It is also important to obtain medical care as soon as possible after you have been injured. If you wait too long to see a doctor, the defendant may try to claim that you weren’t injured and are not entitled to compensation. 

If you do not go to the emergency room after the accident, you should visit your own doctor and undergo a thorough examination. Do not refrain from telling your doctor about all of your symptoms and the pain you are experiencing. Sometimes it takes a while for all of the symptoms to become known after a traumatic incident due to the shock and adrenaline involved. You may want to keep a journal of the pain and symptoms you experience each day. You should also write down any time you have to take off work and any activities you can no longer enjoy or engage in because of your injuries. 

Taking your injury seriously and receiving medical treatment will help you recover, and it will help you in your future personal injury case. It is important that you follow all of your doctor’s orders, take all of your prescribed medication, and attend any necessary specialist appointments, such as physical and occupational therapy. Whether you pursue an insurance claim through the property owner’s commercial insurance policy or a personal injury lawsuit, keeping track of your records can help you prove that you are entitled to the full and fair amount of compensation you deserve.

How Much is My Negligent Security Claim Worth?

The best way to understand the value of your potential claim is to discuss your case with an attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you estimate the value of your damages. If you have been seriously injured, you will benefit from working with financial and medical experts who can estimate the future medical and lifestyle expenses you experience going forward. Under Georgia personal injury laws, plaintiffs can pursue two different types of damages through a negligent security law: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are easily quantifiable monetary losses that result from your injuries, such as medical expenses. 

Many victims of criminal activity experience significant medical expenses that may include rehabilitation, physical therapy, surgeries, hospitalizations, and mental health care due to the trauma of the accident.  You can also recover your lost wages and loss of future income if you can no longer work because of your injury. Victims can also pursue compensation for property damage. 

Victims of crimes frequently experience significant non-economic damages because of the trauma of the incident. Non-economic damages include compensation for physical pain, suffering, and emotional distress. 

How Long Do I Have to Pursue a Negligent Security Claim?

There are time limits, also called statutes of limitations, for every type of lawsuit, including negligent security lawsuits. Statutes of limitations set general deadlines for filing civil cases. If you do not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you could lose your ability to pursue compensation for your injuries. The best way to find out whether you still have time to file a claim is to discuss your case with a negligent security attorney who can advise you on the statute of limitations that applies to your case. 

In most cases, you only have two years to file a negligent security claim in Georgia. Two years may seem like a lot of time, but it is not. Investigations into negligence security can take months. If disputes are related to your injuries or the cause of the incident, it can take even longer. Speaking to an attorney after you receive medical treatment can help you protect your claim and will allow your attorney to investigate and gather evidence on your behalf.

Wrongful Death Claims Involving Negligent Security

Negligence security cases frequently involve violent attacks, including knife attacks and gunshot wounds. Sadly, victims of negligent security may suffer fatal injuries resulting in wrongful death. Suppose the victim of the crime did not incite the attack, and the crime happened because the property owner failed to keep the premises reasonably safe from foreseeable crimes. In that case, the victim’s surviving family members have a right to pursue a wrongful death claim. The victim’s spouse, children, and parents are all potential claimants. Additionally, in Georgia, estate representatives can file a wrongful death claim.

A wrongful death claim allows a victim’s loved ones to recover compensation for their loved one’s care, companionship, and medical expenses before they passed away. If your deceased family member was your family’s breadwinner, surviving family members can also recover damages to cover their lost household income. Funeral and burial expenses can also be recovered. While nothing can bring your loved one back, pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can help you hold the responsible party accountable and recover the compensation your family needs to move forward. 

Discuss Your Case With a Negligent Security Attorney in Atlanta

If you have been the victim of a crime on another person’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries through a negligent security lawsuit. If you have questions about whether you have a valid negligent security claim, attorney James A. Rice is here to help you. He offers potential clients a free, no-obligation consultation. During your consultation, you can ask questions and learn more about whether you have a valid legal claim. He can also help you understand an estimate of the potential value of your claim. Contact James A. Rice today to learn how he can fight for you.

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