Atlanta has a problem. Violent crime has spiked across the city in recent years. By July 2021, Atlanta homicides had risen by 35% compared to July 2019. While city and state legislators are discussing plans to make Atlanta safer, there’s a very good reason why Atlanta residents should worry about security.
Recovering From a Violent Crime
When you’re injured in violent crime, you are often left to cover your own recovery, including past and future medical bills and lasting psychological trauma. While you can pursue a claim against your attacker (assuming they are in custody), they are unlikely to have the resources to cover your damages. However, there are other ways to pursue justice.
If you and your attorney can demonstrate that the violent crime could have been prevented if the property it occurred on were equipped with reasonable and adequate security measures, you may be able to pursue a “negligent security” claim. This is similar to other “premises liability” claims (such as a slip and fall), but it specifically aims to assist victims of avoidable crimes.
Negligent Security Claims
Demonstrating negligent security requires that the plaintiff (the injured party) demonstrate five elements. However, each elements can quickly become complicated, which is why it’s wise to hire an attorney with experience handling negligent security claims
The five elements of a negligent security claim are:
- Element 1: The plaintiff was lawfully on the property at the time of the crime.
- This means that the victim was either a customer, a tenant, a ticketholder, an invited guest, or otherwise had reason to be on the premises. Those injured while trespassing may be unable to file a negligent security claim.
- Element 2: The defendant (landlord) failed to equip the property with security measures that are reasonable and adequate for the area.
- The amount of security that is considered “adequate” often depends on crime rates within that area. For that reason, some negligent security claims may require research into the neighborhood and an analysis of police records.
- Element 3: The plaintiff was injured due to the foreseeable events of a 3rd party (the criminal).
- This does not necessarily mean that that the crime was planned, only that it was reasonably foreseeable given the property’s current security. For example, if a criminal snuck in through an unlocked door and harmed apartment tenants or if they attacked someone in an unguarded parking garage, those would likely qualify as foreseeable events.
- Element 4: The plaintiff’s injuries could have been prevented with adequate security measures.
- This is a combination of factors. It could mean that the crime was prevented altogether due to good lighting, alarm systems, etc. In some cases, the defense might argue that adequate security (such as an alert guard) prevented worse injuries.
- Element 5: The plaintiff suffered tangible losses because of injuries from the third party.
- Injuries and damages are broad terms. In addition to covering medical bills, you may also be eligible for lost wages and changes to your quality of life. Even after physically recovering from your injuries, you may be entitled to pain and suffering damages as compensation for lasting trauma.
Identifying Negligent Security
Nobody wants to be a victim of violent crime. Whenever you’re out, be on the lookout for signs of both adequate and negligent security. The more adept you are at identifying risk factors, the better informed you will be about whether a property has provided its guests with adequate security.
A few signs of adequate security include:
- Locks on doors
- Restricted access to each floor of apartment buildings
- Doors are kept closed (and locked) when not in use
- Lighting around the premises
- Working security cameras with someone monitoring them
- Alarm systems
- On-duty security guard
- Emergency call boxes
While the amount of security required for a given location will vary, these security measures are some strong predictors of whether there was adequate security. That said, adequate security sometimes requires intervention. If a property has all of the security measures listed above, but nobody is monitoring the cameras and staff can’t or don’t respond to a potentially dangerous incident, that might also fall under negligent security.
When determining whether an area has adequate security, lighting is one of the first and most important factors to consider. Proper lighting around the entire premises has been shown to reduce the risk of violent crime by as much as 35%.
Likewise, search for visible cameras. The more visible a camera is, the greater its likelihood of deterring a potential crime when combined with other security measures, especially in parking garages.
Keeping Your Family Safe
As you tune in to the mindset of adequate security, you should take a moment to analyze your most-visited locations. Does your apartment building meet the criteria of adequate security? Is there enough lighting in the parking lot? Does your apartment or workplace have a security guard on staff?
As you consider these questions, also think about your neighborhood. If your building doesn’t have strong security measures, are they at least adequate for the location? If not, it may be time to contact the landlord and raise these concerns. Improving security measures not only reduces the likelihood of a crime, improving the quality of life for everyone, it helps make you and your fellow tenants feel safe.
If you were the victim of a crime that could have been prevented, we are here for you. To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney from Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC, please call (888) 425-6070 or send us an email.