Gun violence has been an increasingly dangerous problem that neighborhoods, schools, cities and America, in general, have had to combat over the years. With the huge increase in gun violence, there has also been an increase in gun sales. In 2020 alone, there have been several reports that the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System office has processed more than 16 million background check applications for gun permits, which sets a record since statistics started being recorded in 1998. As a result of the increase in gun violence, there is a corresponding increase in victims of gun violence.
A negligent security case is a type of premises liability involving a crime being committed by a third-party assailant that causes serious injury or death to a person when a property owner fails to take reasonable measures to prevent said criminal activity. While acts of violence can occur anywhere, property owners have a duty to provide security measures that adequately protect guests on their own property (i.e., apartment complex, bar, shopping mall, etc.). In order to hold property owners accountable, courts typically will determine whether a property owner knew or should have known risks based on prior crimes in and around the same location and whether the property owner neglected to provide adequate security measures to prevent these foreseeable crimes.
In various cities across the country, the increase of crime often can lead to the increase of foreseeability for property owners. If crimes such as sexual assaults, shootings or robberies repeatedly occur on or near a property owner’s premises, property owners are or should be aware of such crimes and a court will likely determine that the risks of harm to invitees on the property were foreseeable to the property owner and that they should be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages.
For example, in Metro Atlanta, there have been at least 10 shootings at various commercial properties (e.g., a late-night shooting that left a security guard dead; a man killed outside of a Goodwill; woman shot and killed at an apartment).
If you are handling a shooting case against an apartment complex owner, these types of crimes, if they occurred on or near the subject premises, can be used during discovery to establish a property owner’s knowledge of prior substantially similar crimes. This will demonstrate that it is foreseeable to the property owner that this type of crime would or could have happened and, thus, the property owner would have the duty to provide adequate security measures to prevent the subject shooting from occurring.
Sources: Fox 5 Atlanta, WSB-TV, CNN
This story appears in the December 2020 issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like this, visit the Report online and subscribe.