Being the victim of violent crime and gun violence is everyone’s worst nightmare. Although not all crimes such as shootings, rapes, or assaults can be prevented, there are some instances where a property owner, whether it be an apartment complex, retail establishment, convenience store, or gas station, may be held responsible for criminal attacks on innocent visitors and customers.
In this blog post, we will discuss how victims of assaults, rapes, shootings, and other violent crimes can obtain compensation under Georgia law.
How To Prove A Negligent Security Shooting, Rape, or Assault Case
A negligent security claim falls under the umbrella of a premises liability case in Georgia. To prove such claims, a victim or his/her surviving heirs must prove the following elements of law in order to obtain compensation under Georgia law:
- Duty: This requires showing that the property owner has a duty to keep its visitors, tenants, and others safe from third-party crimes.
- Negligence: This requires showing that the property owner acted “negligently” or carelessly. Failing to act reasonably to protect visitors from known dangerous and foreseeable criminal attacks is sufficient to prove negligence.
- Liability/Causation: This requires showing that the negligent or careless act (such as failing to provide adequate security, lighting, gating, or taking other measures to protect people visiting the property) caused the criminal attack and the victim’s injuries.
- Damages: This requires a showing that the victim was injured, incurred medical bills, lost wages, and other losses as a result of the violent attack.
- Punitive Damages: This requires a showing that the property owner acted purposefully, recklessly, had no regard for the safety of others, and was indifferent to the consequences of taking no measures to protect visitors from known dangerous criminals and foreseeable crimes. The amount of punitive damages depends on what a jury thinks. There’s no magic formula but there is a cap on the amount of punitive damages that can be recovered in Georgia–$250,000.00.
In terms of proving the case from an investigative standpoint, the facts of the assault, rape, shooting, or other violent crime are extremely important. Some factors include:
- Was the victim involved in a criminal act related to the assault or shooting? If so, such a fact would probably defeat any negligent security claim against the property owner.
- Did the victim know the perpetrator? Although every circumstance is different, where the victim knows the perpetrator and the crime is personally driven, it would be difficult to make a claim against a property owner or business.
- Did the property owner and/or its employees know that there were prior criminal acts and safety concerns on the property? If so, this would go to show that there was knowledge that a future bad act or crime would occur.
- Some ways to establish this type of knowledge about crime include reports to the police, customer, visitor, or tenant complaints, or seeing or hearing violence or shootings in the past.
- Did the property owner take steps to protect its customers, visitors, tenants, and others? If the property owner knew about the likelihood of violent crimes and did nothing, then this is probably negligent. Examples of steps a property owner can take include hiring security patrol, putting fences and gates up around the property, installing surveillance cameras, installing adequate lighting, or vetting employees for criminal history.
The Value of a Negligent Security Case
Like any case, the amount of compensation a victim of an assault, rape, shooting, or other violent crime may recover depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. Some factors that influence value include:
- The severity of the victim’s injuries and the amount of the victim’s medical bills. Did the victim survive? Is the victim permanently impaired?
- The egregiousness of the property owner’s actions (or inaction). Were there other violent crimes that occurred in the past? Did complaints from other victims or other persons go ignored? Is there evidence that the property owner valued profits more than the safety of its customers, tenants, or other visitors?
- The type of crime.
Proving negligent security cases requires the expertise of an attorney who is familiar with Georgia law and how to investigate and build a case. The initial investigation of these types of cases is vital to preserving evidence for trial. A good personal injury lawyer knows what steps to take to investigate the case, talk to witnesses, obtain evidence, and get a case in a strong position to settle or to take to trial.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of an assault, rape, shooting, or other violent crime, contact our experienced personal injury attorney at Davis Injury Firm today to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact the skilled team at Davis Injury Firm right away by calling (404) 647-0722. If you prefer, you can also fill out the online contact form, and someone from our team will reach out to you right away.