In Georgia, when it is foreseeable that a criminal act may likely occur, property owners have a duty to take all reasonable and necessary steps to keep such an act from happening. If they do not, injured parties can recover compensation from property owners for failing to secure the property against foreseeable criminal attacks or negligent security. Property security is controlled by premises liability law. Georgia law requires owners and lessees of property and businesses to protect their customers and tenants from unreasonable dangers. These individuals and companies are required to take minimum steps to discover dangerous conditions and to correct these dangers so their customers and tenants are not hurt. When these businesses do not take reasonable steps to correct the unsafe condition or if someone is seriously injured or killed, there exists a potential claim for negligent security. The two most common types of negligent security claims are assaults and shootings.
Negligent security cases often involve injury to an individual because of a criminal assault, sexual assault or robbery on commercial premises such as:
- Apartment Complexes, Condominium Buildings, College Dormitories, Nursing Homes
- Parking Lots, Parking Decks, Parking Garages
- Hotels, Motels, Cruise Ships, Casinos, Nightclubs
- Office Buildings, Medical Clinics, Hospitals, Banks
- Shopping Centers, Malls, Movie Theaters, Restaurants
- Schools, Colleges, Day Care Facilities
- Concert Arenas, Sports Stadiums, Amusement Parks
- Airports, Train and Bus Terminals, Subway Stations and MARTA Stations
What Should an Owner/Landlord do to Protect You and Avoid Negligent Security?
- Perform adequate criminal background checks on existing and potential tenants and employees
- Ensure that lights in parking areas and breezeways are properly maintained
- Maintain the fence around the parking lot to be sure a criminal cannot gain access
- Keep all security gates in proper working order at all times
- Install and observe activity on security cameras
Elements of a Negligent Security Case in Georgia
A property or business owner is not automatically liable for negligent security every time someone is victimized by a crime while on his or her premises. Instead, negligent security/civil liability arises only if it can be proven that the property or business owner failed to exercise reasonable care in providing needed security and that such negligence proximately caused or contributed to the injuries suffered by the victim. There are four elements of a viable negligent security case.
- The crime victim was a tenant, renter, patron, customer, employee or other guest invited to be on the premises at the time of the crime.
- The property or business owner owed a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to make the premises safe or, undertook a duty to provide security measures that obligated them to provide security in a prudent and non-negligent manner.
- The property or business owner negligently failed to satisfy their legal, contractual or assumed duty to provide necessary security measures to make the premises reasonably safe and protect patrons from the violent acts of a perpetrator.
- The crime or act of violence would not have occurred had the property or business owner provided adequate security.
Not all crimes can be prevented. However, given the number of tools available to businesses (security guards, controlled access gates, security cameras, perimeter fencing, adequate lighting, simple warnings to tenants and customers), businesses have the duty to evaluate the criminal history at their facility and take appropriate measures to try and prevent future crimes.
If you have been harmed due to the negligent security of a property or business owner, contact The Monk Law Firm for a free consultation. Our premises liability lawyer is here to help.