What businesses are liable for negligent security in Georgia?
In Macon and across the state of Georgia, property owners, landlords and business owners have a legal obligation to maintain safe premises. Any injuries on the property they own or manage due to a failure to maintain secure premises are injuries that they are liable for. “Premises liability” is the legal term for these conditions.
A property owner or manager can also be responsible for third parties’ criminal behavior on their premises. The business or property owner can be found negligent and held liable for any injuries if security would have prevented the unlawful conduct.
Two examples include assaults that occur in a hotel hallway or mall parking lot that only happened because of lax security. In both of these cases, property owners were in a position to prevent the assaults by improving their safety but failed to do so. This type of case usually falls under Georgia’s premises liability law.
Examples of negligent security in Georgia
Liability for third-party criminal activity is not automatic, despite the obligation that Georgia property owners have to keep their premises safe. Specific criteria must be met to determine that negligence occurred.
An injured person must be able to demonstrate the following to prove negligence:
- There was a legal duty to a required standard of conduct
- The duty was breached
- This breach was responsible for the injury
- The damage was caused by this injury
In order to make a negligent security case, the business owner or landlord should also have been able to foresee the illegal act. This type of situation occurs reasonably frequently in areas known to have high crime rates where the property owner refused to increase the security by better surveillance or other measures.
Some of the situations where Georgia courts have found an assault “foreseeable” include:
- When the premises in an area with a known high crime rate
- When a volatile situation grows out of control on the premises (such as a restaurant found liable for an assault after a patron became belligerent before assaulting the other)
- When substantially similar crimes have happened in the same location (such as repeated assaults occurring without poor security being addressed)
What duties do Georgia property owners have to provide a safe environment?
Several factors come into play in the duty to provide adequate security. This includes the location where the incident happened, as well as the relationship between the injured party and the negligent party.
Where the incident occurred
In addition to being liable for injuries that occur on the property, business and property owners can be responsible for injuries that happen near the premises.
One noteworthy 2017 case involved an assault that happened near the entrance to Six Flags in Georgia. Although the assault began in the entry area over the property line, the park was found liable because the assault was planned on the property.
However, even with location playing a role in these cases, there are exceptions. For example, when a property owner allows access for recreational purposes without a fee. In these cases, owners have limited liability.
Relationship between the injured party and property owner
Georgia’s legal code makes important distinctions in regard to invitees and licensees.
The definition of an invitee is someone who the owner invited onto the property. Businesses are considered to have invited customers, clients or patients to their premises. In the case of a rental property, tenants are considered invitees.
Property owners or managers have an obligation to keep their premises safe for all their invitees. The owner may be legally liable for damages if injuries occur because they fail to exercise ordinary care in providing safety.
What damages can an injured party receive in a negligent security claim?
The injured party has an obligation to demonstrate that their injury caused damages. Examples of damages an injured party can collect include:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
There is not usually a cap on the amount of damages that you may receive in a negligent security case.
Some cases may entitle a plaintiff to receive punitive damages. These damages are awarded to punish the wrongdoer and, hopefully, keep them from continuing the same behavior. These types of damages are limited to $250,000.
Who can be held liable for inadequate security in Georgia?
Examples of businesses and locations that may have liability include:
- Stores, shopping malls and shopping centers
- Amusement or water parks
- Gas stations and truck stops
- Hospitals and doctor’s offices
- Hotels and motels
- Parking lots and garages at businesses
If you were injured on someone else’s property, don’t despair. A lawyer who handles negligent security cases can help get you the compensation you need.