No matter where someone lives, they should be able to enjoy and feel secure in their residential environment, without living in fear that violent crime and other attacks could harm them. Two recent shootings at Atlanta apartment complexes reveal that some people may not even be safe in their own homes. Atlanta’s WSB-TV News Channel 2 reported on an incident on September 20, 2022, in which a victim was shot 7 times in the arms, legs, and abdomen outside an apartment building. Two days earlier, a double shooting at an apartment complex led to a fatality and left another victim in critical condition.
Victims and their families have rights under Georgia law, but the legal remedy does not involve pursuing the shooter as you might expect. As property owners, landlords have a duty to keep the premises safe. You may have grounds to seek compensation for a breach of this duty, and an Atlanta crime victims attorney will help navigate the legal process. Some background information on how liability works is also useful.
Premises Liability in Georgia
A landlord’s duty to maintain a safe apartment complex is based upon the concept of premises liability, which focuses on negligence. Failure to protect residents and guests from foreseeable harm is a breach of duty. The landlord has the obligations you expect, such as making repairs, cleaning up spills, and managing common areas.
However, security is also an issue. Criminal activity can lead to serious harm to residents, so there is a specific subset of premises liability termed negligent security. In the above stories, the landlord at the respective apartment buildings could be liable for:
- Not implementing appropriate security measures for resident access, such as keycards;
- Failure to fix or install proper lighting in common areas and parking garages;
- Neglecting to implement a security system and/or surveillance cameras; and,
- Not hiring a security guard.
Keep in mind that foreseeability of the dangerous condition is important, and the issue comes down to whether the landlord had notice. When there is a history of violent offenses and criminal activity in the area around the apartment complex, the landlord is well-aware that residents are at risk.
Compensation for Crime Victims
Monetary damages are available in negligent security cases, so you can pursue the landlord. The nature of compensation depends upon the situation:
- Victims of recent shootings can recover from their medical costs, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other losses that impact the quality of life.
- The victims in a fatal shooting are actually the surviving family members who lost a loved one through the landlord’s negligence with security. The surviving spouse, children, and other relatives can obtain compensation through a wrongful death claim.
Consult with an Atlanta Crime Victims Lawyer About Legal Options
To learn more about your rights and remedies against a negligent landlord, please contact Wetherington Law Firm, P.C. You can call 404-888-4444 or go online to set up a no-cost case assessment. After reviewing your story, a Georgia premises liability and negligent security attorney can provide additional details.