You are walking to your car, carrying an armload of groceries. A car drives by you, and the passenger reaches out and grabs your purse. The strap wraps around your arm, yanking you to the ground and dragging you behind the car. The strap finally breaks, and the car speeds off, leaving you on the pavement with a broken rib and a severed finger.
This may seem like a straightforward criminal case. But say the police discover that this is the third mugging in a month at this store. Who is liable for your attack?
Negligent security is a type of premises liability. It is a failure to keep people safe from violence in a public space. You may also hear it referred to as “inadequate security” or “security negligence.”
If you are the victim of a violent crime in a public area, the property owner can be held responsible for the attack if they did not meet public safety standards.
Visitors to public spaces have an expectation of security. Whether you are at a shopping mall, a stadium, a nightclub, or a park, you should be protected from harm. The owners of these properties are required to secure these premises and keep their visitors safe.
In the grocery store case, the owners should have been aware of a recurring security problem. If they took no action to protect their customers from future muggings, they could be found guilty of negligent security.
Other examples could be:
If the property owner (or the tenant who leases the space, as with a club or store) did not secure their premises or have public safety measures in place, they could be held responsible for negligent security.
Negligent security cases allow the victim of a crime to seek damages from the owner of the property where the attack occurred. These lawsuits are filed against property owners and not the perpetrator of the attack.
If a property owner knows about the likelihood of dangerous criminal attacks on its property, it could be held responsible for the criminal act.
Businesses are required to maintain their properties and keep visitors safe. Places with high foot traffic should hire security staff, install cameras, fencing, security gates, and make sure emergency exits are properly marked.
However, some public spaces fall short of this standard. Examples of negligent behavior include:
If your apartment complex has security gates, they should be in proper working order. Imagine the gates break, and the leasing company does not have them fixed. Then, you are assaulted outside your apartment. The complex owners could be held liable for your damages.
Or say a series of threats have been made against a shopping mall. Mall management does not hire additional security, and lessees are not made aware of the threats. A shooting occurs at the mall, and three people are killed. The families of the victims could bring a negligent security case against the mall owners.
Perhaps you were mugged in a dimly-lit parking garage. If your lawyer discovers that similar attacks took place in the same spot, and the attacker always used the poor lighting to conceal themselves, they could be held responsible for your assault.
To win a negligent security case, it must be proven that the attack would not have occurred or would have been less severe if the property owners (or tenant responsible for the space) had taken reasonable security measures.
There is a myriad of factors that go into these cases. For example, could the business foresee a crime taking place on their property, and would reasonable action have prevented that crime?
In Georgia, this statute reads:
“Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”
In laymen’s terms, anytime a property owner invites others to their space, they are liable for injuries caused if they did not take action to keep those invited safe.
To win a negligent security case, you (the plaintiff) must prove that the owner of the property (the defendant) where you were attacked did not take reasonable actions to protect their visitors.
You will have to prove the defendant:
Negligent security cases are civil cases, but they are usually related to a crime. If the property owner is found to be negligent, a criminal case could also be brought against them.
What “Damages” Could a Business Be Found Liable For?
In a legal sense, damages are “[monetary] compensation for loss or injury caused by the wrongful act of another.” The aim of most civil cases is to recover damages for the plaintiff.
In Georgia, there are three main categories that damages can fall under. These are:
It is difficult to determine how much compensation you could be owed since the facts in every case vary widely. Generally, the worse an injury, the greater your awarded damages will be.
Under Georgia law, there is no cap on the amount of damages you can be awarded. The state Supreme Court ruled that damage caps were unconstitutional in 2010.
It may seem like your negligent security case is straightforward, and you may consider representing yourself to save money. However, these cases can be challenging to prove, and it is always better to have a legal expert working on your case.
Remember, the plaintiff in a case is responsible for proving the defendant acted negligently. The defendant (in this case, the property owner) is presumed innocent until evidence is presented that confirms their disregard.
Cases of negligent security are often complicated. Proving liability is an onerous task. For example, a landlord hires a superintendent to live in an apartment building and make repairs on the property. The
building’s back door has a broken lock. A tenant reports the broken lock to the landlord by email, but she does not mention it to the super. The next week, her ex-boyfriend sneaks-in through the broken door and assaults the tenant. Who is liable, the landlord or the super?
Your lawyer will gather evidence, including witness statements, police reports, medical records, and statements from expert witnesses. Perhaps most importantly, they will do all of this for you so that you can focus on your recovery.
Davis Injury Firm is experienced in litigating negligent security cases, and we understand the burden of proof that is necessary to win.
Additionally, depending on where your attack took place, the defense could have the resources to hire a high-powered legal team. Chain stores and restaurants, sports stadiums, apartment complexes, and leasing companies often have robust legal teams that work around the clock to defeat lawsuits.
To win such cases, it is imperative that you are also represented by an attorney. At Davis Injury Firm, we work closely with our clients and keep you informed throughout the process. We are your advocates as you seek justice.
If you were the victim of a violent crime and believe the property owners were negligent, contact Davis Injury Firm today. Our team is dedicated to achieving justice for victims of violent crime in Georgia and aggressively pursuing negligent parties.
You should not have to shoulder the cost of a crime that was committed against you.
Call Davis Injury Firm right now at (404) 593-26201 – you don’t pay until we win.
About the Author Betty Nguyen Davis is an Atlanta attorney who solely focuses her practice on plaintiff’s personal injury work. Betty is consistently recognized by her peers as a top attorney in Georgia by Super Lawyers and Georgia Trend and is highly recommended by her clients as a aggressive and persistent, yet caring and accessible attorney.