When people visit a property in Atlanta, there is a presumption that the property owner has security measures in place to protect them. These measures could be surveillance cameras or security guards. However, as lawyers, we are well aware that this may not be true in all cases. Negligent security claims typically arise from a lack of proper safety on-premises.
The security measures are not foolproof and are known to fail or malfunction. When this happens, and a person suffers a crime or injury while on the property, they can hold the owner liable for negligent security damages. This article will look at the elements of negligent security claims arising from this tort in Atlanta.
The Legal Theory of Premises Liability
Negligent security claims in Atlanta comes under the purview of the legal theory of premises liability. The latter is a tort that alleges that the injury suffered on property results from the owner’s negligence.
Georgia’s premises liability law states that property owners and businesses must protect their customers and tenants from unreasonable harm. They must take minimum steps to learn of the dangerous conditions on their property and correct the dangers so that visitors on their property do not suffer injury.
The Duty of Atlanta Property Owners
Although the law is clear that a property owner is responsible for the safety of those that come into his property, the extent of the duty they owe depends on the visitor’s business on the premises. There are three classes of visitors recognized under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A). They are:
- Invitee: An invitee is someone who enters a property with the invitation of the owner either directly or implied. The law expects the premises owner to maintain it so that the visitor won’t get harmed.
- Licensee: A licensee enters a property for reasons other than business or commercial. The premises owner must inform all licensees of any potential danger or security risk on the property.
- Trespasser: A trespasser is someone who enters a property without the express or implied consent of the owner. The law states that a property owner who has no idea of a trespasser’s presence on their premises cannot be held liable for the person’s harm. This is because the lack of knowledge would prevent the owner from advising the trespasser of possible security risks.
Proving Breach of Duty in Negligent Security Claims
To succeed in negligent security claims in Atlanta, the plaintiff must show a security breakdown or the lack thereof led to the harm suffered. The victim will have to prove the following:
- That they entered the premises with the permission of the owner. The property could be a shopping center, apartment building, restaurant, or bar.
- That they suffered the injury partly because of the inadequate security measures put in place by the property owner. Here, the victim can introduce evidence of the breach like a broken lock on a door, lousy lighting, or unqualified security personnel.
Damages in Negligent Security Claims
Another critical element of negligent security claims in Atlanta is the calculation of damages. Like in other parts of Georgia, the damages awarded can be special damages or general damages.
Special damages are monetary compensation assigned to a specific dollar amount, and they cover things like future medical expenses and lost wages resulting from the injury. The victim would have to prove that they lost a specific amount before the court can award special damages.
General damages are unassignable to a specific dollar amount. They are usually calculated based on the following factors:
- The severity of the injury.
- The extent of the injury’s interference with the victim’s everyday life, quality, or enjoyment of life.
- The injury’s impact on the victim’s future employment.
- The pain suffered because of the damage.
- The level of shock or fear associated with the injury.
The court could also award punitive damages if there is evidence of the property owner’s willful, wanton, or malicious misconduct. Note that while there is no limit to the damages a person can recover in a negligent security claim, there will be a limit if the injury happened on government premises.
Are You a Victim of Negligent Security? Contact a Georgia Negligent Security Lawyer at Calvin Smith Law
We understand at Calvin Smith Law that property owners must keep everyone who comes into their premises safe. Many people take this for granted by failing to provide the necessary resources to ensure safety. If you suffered an injury while visiting a property, contact one of our negligent security attorneys for legal advice and representation. We are experts who have many years of experience handling similar cases successfully. Call today to schedule a free consultation.