You were heading back to your car after a great evening downtown. The parking garage was quiet and empty. A figure appeared with a knife and demanded your wallet. You were about to comply, but the attacker lunged at you.
You awoke in the hospital with stitches and scars. You’re told a security guard found you shortly after the attack. You speak to the police and describe your assailant. Then you start wondering how this could happen.
You paid for your vehicle to be kept in a safe place, yet you were attacked on the premises. You know someone should answer for what happened to you. Could you have a negligent security case?
Understand Negligent Security
To determine whether you have the legal standing to make a claim, you first need to understand the four elements of negligent security. Not every case of premises liability can result in a negligent security claim. Even becoming the victim of a crime on someone else’s property does not, by itself, mean you have a negligent security case.
To demonstrate your standing as a victim of negligent security, you must be the victim of a violent crime while on someone else’s property. Any crime involving physical violence allows victims to file a negligent security claim, whether it’s robbery, battery, rape, attempted murder, or worse.
Upon establishing the occurrence of a violent crime, you must demonstrate the following criteria:
1. You were a guest, ticketholder, customer, patient, or patron or had an invitation to the property at the time of the crime.
2. The property owner did not have equipment or procedures in place to prevent the crime.
3. The crime would not have occurred or would be a lesser (or even non-violent) crime with proper security measures.
4. As a result of the crime, you suffered serious harm, loss, or injury.
In our example, you were a customer of the parking garage. The property owners either did not have proper security to ensure this couldn’t happen or failed to monitor and respond to a crime in progress. Had the security guard been more attentive, you might not have been attacked at all. Finally, as a result of the attack, you suffered serious injuries and were hospitalized.
The above example meets all four criteria of a negligent security case and warrants speaking to an attorney and filing a negligent security claim as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that negligent security only applies to violent crimes. If your assailant only took your wallet and fled, you could file a report with the police, but you would not have the legal standing to claim negligent security.
Negligent security is a civil case between you and the property owner. The results will help you obtain compensation for your suffering, but will not impact the criminal investigation of prosecuting your attacker.
Contact an Attorney
If you suspect you have a negligent security case, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. In Georgia, you only have two years from the time of your injury to file a claim with the court.
However, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that the property-owner will improve their security measures. This can make it difficult to demonstrate the exact circumstances at the time of the crime.
It’s important you choose a law firm experienced in handling negligent security cases. As laws become increasingly complex, you want someone known for getting results with this kind of case.
In our example, you were a ticket-holding customer at the time of the crime. Providing your attorney with your ticket demonstrates the first element and proves that the property owners had a duty to protect you.
Likewise, you or your attorneys can visit the scene of the crime and get pictures of their security measures. Look for cameras near the scene or at the entrances. If there were cameras, were they monitored?
Was there proper lighting on the premises? Light is an exceptional deterrent for violent crime.
Your attorneys may also question the security guard to determine what they were doing at the time of the crime and whether their negligence allowed the crime to occur.
Your hospital bill is another kind of evidence. It demonstrates that the crime was serious enough to require immediate medical treatment and hospitalization. This effectively demonstrates the fourth element of a negligent security case.
Any additional evidence you can provide will greatly help your attorneys. These might include torn clothes or names of doctors, nurses, and police officers. If you suspect additional information might help your attorneys, don’t hold back.
Take Care of Yourself
After hiring an experienced negligent security attorney and providing evidence, you should make time for yourself. Violent crimes often result in long-term trauma. Many victims experience lasting forms of PTSD.
Victims of violent crime may experience a range of symptoms from depression and anxiety to recurring nightmares and bouts of anger or mistrust. These feelings can be debilitating and warrant a regiment of grieving and self-care.
Don’t try to tough it out. Violent crimes are traumatizing and can have long term impacts on your mental health. Be open with friends and family who try to support you.
You may wish to seek support programs for victims of crime. Sharing your experiences with people who experienced similar trauma can have an enormous impact on your recovery process.
It’s normal to have unpleasant feelings after a violent crime; how you react to them is up to you.
If you or someone you love became the victim of a violent crime while on someone else’s property, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Atlanta negligent security lawyer from Pratt Clay, please call 404-566-9460 or send us an email.