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Violent Crime Is Up; Landlords, Business Owners Must Improve Security

an Atlanta crime scene taped off by police.

In the last few years, violent crime in Atlanta and major cities throughout the nation has increased dramatically. Nationwide, murder and non-negligent manslaughter rose by almost 30 percent in 2020. This is the most significant rise since recordkeeping began in the 1960s.

Meanwhile, aggravated assault is up 9 percent, and gun assaults are up 5 percent. Landlords and property owners have a duty to provide people with safe environments. Therefore, when crime goes up, their security measures must improve too.

When a violent crime happens on a residential or business property, the owner is often liable for the victim's injuries and damages—especially if they were negligent about meeting legal security standards.

Victims of assault, battery, shootings, stabbings, sexual assault, or rape have recourse through the civil justice system and may be eligible to recover compensation through a negligent security lawsuit against the business or property owner where the violent attack occurred.

Likewise, certain family members of homicide victims can also pursue financial compensation by taking civil action against the owner or manager of the property where the crime occurred. The key is to talk to an experienced negligent security lawyer as soon as possible so you can clearly understand your legal rights and options.

What is duty of care?

Property owners owe a duty of care to others who are invited or permitted on their property. A victim may be eligible to file a negligent security lawsuit if they were assaulted in an environment made unsafe due to:

  • Poor lighting, missing bulbs.
  • Weak door locks (not using a deadbolt or other serious lock).
  • Lack of security guards or other safety and gateway personnel.
  • Security guards who are poorly trained or unqualified.
  • No security, screening measures, or keys needed to enter the building.
  • Insufficient surveillance cameras.
  • Lack of employee security protocols (nighttime lock up, for example).
  • Broken windows.
  • Holes in fencing or gateways.

Depending on the role and position of the property owner, their duty of care might differ considerably. For instance, a renter in an apartment complex might be responsible for security in the area they rent. Still, the property owner may be liable for security in shared spaces or the apartment complex's parking lot.

The victim's status on the premises at the time of the incident may also have an effect on the property owner's duty of care. Generally, property owners owe a higher duty of care to people who are invited onto the premises, a lower duty of care to people who are there for their own benefit, and the lowest duty of care to trespassers.

However, in some rare cases, even a trespasser may be able to pursue a negligent security lawsuit. This is why it's so critical to seek legal advice if you've been injured or attacked on someone else's property.

Recent Atlanta negligent security cases

Georgia has experienced a few rent high-profile negligent security cases. For example, victims of criminal attacks in a Fulton County CVS and a DeKalb County Kroger recently won negligent security lawsuits. The awards were for $43 million and $69.6 million, respectively. In both cases, juries found that the stores should have had more security measures in place.

According to court records, two years before the 2019 incident, CVS removed significant security measures from the store. Several violent crimes ensued. Despite employee concerns, security was not improved, and a man was shot several times by an attacker in the store's parking lot.

Parking lots are frequent sites of violent attacks, but crimes involving inadequate security can also take place at:

  • Hotels and motels.
  • Apartment complexes.
  • Office buildings.
  • Bars, restaurants & nightclubs.
  • ATMs
  • Supermarkets.
  • Shopping malls.
  • Retail Stores.
  • College campuses, including dorms.

What is inadequate security?

To protect people, property owners should meet at least minimum safety standards and take reasonable steps to boost security if they are located in high-crime areas. The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends property and business owners improve security to keep pace with the national rise in violent crime. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Have on-site security staff that follow up-to-date best practices and policies
  • Inspect and maintain security equipment
  • Regularly inspect lights, stairways, windows, and doors
  • Maintain landscaping
  • Investigate threats of criminal activity

Keep in mind that the laws governing inadequate security cases are broad and differ significantly by state. As a result, it's in your interest to review your legal rights and options with an experienced attorney in your area if you or someone you loved is the victim of a violent attack on someone else's property.

Talk to an Atlanta negligent security lawyer today.

Again, cases involving inadequate security can be very challenging to navigate. That's why you need an attorney with the knowledge, experience, and resources to investigate what happened to you, find the facts that matter, and build a strong case for the compensation you're entitled to under the law.

You don't need to take on the property owner's attorneys by yourself. Attorney George S. Johnson can stand by your side and aggressively advocate for you and your family's best interests throughout every step in the process.

To see if you're eligible to file a negligent security lawsuit, contact us today for a free consultation. Our office is in Decatur, and we proudly serve clients in Metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia.

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