Obviously, a person who assaults and/or robs someone else is responsible for the harm they caused. But if the crime occurred on a third party’s private property, the property owner might indirectly share responsibility for the victim’s injuries.
Violent crimes like armed robbery and assault generally are crimes of opportunity. Perpetrators tend to lurk in places where a victim won’t see them coming and where police or private security are unlikely to be on patrol. Meanwhile, property owners in Atlanta owe lawful visitors a duty of due care to keep the premises reasonably safe. Not only does this mean they must keep floors, parking lots, stairwells, etc., clean, dry and in good repair. It also means they must “exercise ordinary care” to prevent violent crimes from taking place on their property.
What property owners can do to prevent injuries from crimes
Examples of things the owner of an apartment building, parking lot, hotel, shopping center or other property that is open to residents or the general public can do to help prevent crime include:
- Control access to the property using secure gates
- Maintain proper locks on the doors to off-limits areas and to keep people out after hours
- Post security guards where they are visible to everyone entering and leaving the premises
- Install a good lighting system to minimize dark corners and hallways
- Pick up trash and get rid of eyesores like graffiti and vehicles up on blocks
- Install visible security cameras
Depending on the size, purpose and location of a piece of property, all or some of these precautions are reasonable and cost-effective. The law does not expect property owners to prevent every possible crime, but they must not negligently let people get assaulted on their premises because they took no steps to keep visitors safe.