Being assaulted can be a traumatic, frightening experience. There are numerous ways we can protect ourselves from these events, from carrying personal defense devices to exercising caution in potentially dangerous areas.
However, despite our best efforts, assaults still happen. In these situations, it may not just be an attacker responsible for damages to an individual; the property owner where an assault occurred could also be liable if they failed to take reasonable steps to make their premises safe.
Understanding reasonable efforts
Typically, property owners do not need to have extensive or elaborate security measures in place. It may be unnecessary to surveil the entire area with cameras, install sophisticated access systems or put up signage at every potential hazard.
However, they should exercise ordinary care and make reasonable efforts to keep their property safe. Some examples of this include:
- Installing adequate lighting in parking lots or entryways with low light
- Having a security guard on-site for businesses at a high risk of theft
- Using video surveillance at entryways and prohibited areas
- Adding bushes or posts in specific areas to restrict access and visibility
Note that all these measures may not be necessary, but it is up to property owners to determine what is reasonable. To do this, they must consider factors including:
- Whether a crime has been committed on-site before and what the nature of that offense was
- Whether their business or property is in an area with a high crime rate
- Whether existing security measures have been broken or tampered with
- Whether a violent altercation was reasonably foreseeable
Holding a property owner accountable for an assault
If a property owner failed to take these or other reasonable steps, he or she could be negligent and liable for damages. To file a claim for negligence in Georgia, you must prove several things, from your status as an invited party to the owner’s knowledge of a dangerous condition that he or she failed to address.
If someone assaulted you on another person’s property, it is important not to overlook the potential for a negligence claim against the property owner. Not only could this result in financial compensation for your damages, but it could also prevent others from suffering a similar assault by pushing the property owner to improve safety.