The page is about negligent security lawsuits in Georgia. We look at how these lawsuits work, what negligent security lawyers in Georgia need to do to prove a claim, and how these lawsuits work. Our lawyers also provide insight into the settlement amounts and jury payouts victims see in these cases. These claims often involve horrific injuries and high settlement compensation.
What Does Negligent Security Mean?
Negligent security lawsuits are negligence claims for victims of crimes or violent actions that occur due to a property owner’s failure to ensure adequate safety to shield visitors from criminal activities such as rape, murder, robbery, rape, or assault. These lawsuits are filed against security companies, property management companies, property owners, and tenants who do not take reasonable precautions to keep people safe.
The underlying premise behind every inadequate security lawsuit in Georgia is that the crime would have been averted if the defendant had cared enough to take the necessary steps to put reasonable security measures had been in place to protect victims from harm.
Accordingly, Georgia law holds property owners accountable for negligent or inadequate security when they fail to implement reasonable measures to deter violent crime. No one is saying that there is a requirement that businesses guarantee absolute safety for everyone. But they are expected to implement sufficient precautions to minimize potential hazards and if they do not, Georgia juries will hold them accountable.
12 Examples of Negligent Security Claims
Our negligent security lawyers see so many different types of potential claims. Here is a comprehensive yet still incomplete list of example lawsuits:
- Poor Lighting: Poor visibility is a magnet for criminals for obvious reasons. So many negligent security lawsuits involve cases where, for example, a customer is mugged in a dimly lit parking lot of a shopping mall due to inadequate lighting.
- Faulty Security Systems: More often then the lack of a security systems – which is also a viable claim – is the failure to maintain the system they already have in place. You see this when a burglar gains entry to an apartment building due to a malfunctioning security system that the property owner failed to repair.
- Inadequate Security Personnel: An example of this is when a patron is assaulted at a nightclub where there were no security guards or inadequately trained security personnel. But what our negligent security attorneys also see way too often is nightclub bouncers who cause more conflict than the troublemakers they are supposedly there to derail.
- Lack of Surveillance: A shopper is attacked in a retail store’s stairwell that was not monitored by surveillance cameras. These can also be claims against the building owner for designing a building with unnecessary areas of risk.
- Negligent Hiring: A hotel guest is assaulted by a staff member who had a criminal background, but the hotel failed to perform a background check before hiring. It is amazing how many otherwise serious businesses hire employees without taking the steps a 12-year-old could to verify if their employee is a criminal.
- Nonexistent or Defective Locks: A tenant is robbed because the landlord failed to repair a broken lock on their apartment door after being notified. An even more tragic example of this claim is the Sturbridge Partners, an Atlanta negligent security case we discuss below, with even more tragic facts.
- Absence of Emergency Protocols: A guest at a large event is injured during a panic situation due to the lack of a proper emergency evacuation plan.
- Negligence in Security Warnings: A college fails to warn students about recent criminal activities on campus, leading to a student falling victim to a similar crime. So Georgia law is clear, as we see below in one of the leading Georgia negligent security cases, that businesses have a duty not only to protect but to warn customers of potential risk they may face so they can take steps to protect themselves.
- Unmonitored Access Points: A patient in a hospital is harmed by an unauthorized person who entered through an unmonitored or unlocked entrance. Hospitals have very complex protocols for visitors that they routinely ignore, allowing criminals to prey on people at their worst moments.
- Failure to Respond: A residential complex fails to respond adequately to reports of criminal activity, resulting in a resident’s injury or theft.
- Improper Crowd Control: During a large event or concert, poor crowd management leads to injuries or damages.
- Inadequate Security Procedures: A bank is robbed because it did not have adequate security procedures in place is a good example. Our lawyers see a lot of cases where the security procedure were just an awful cut-and-paste of someone else’s procedures that do not really apply or the failure to follow the simple procedures that are in place.
Proving a Negligent Security Lawsuit in Georgia
To effectively file a negligent security lawsuit in Georgia, the plaintiff typically needs to establish four critical factors:
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff has to show that the defendant had a duty of care, meaning property owners are obliged to take reasonable security steps to guard lawful visitors against foreseeable dangers.
- Breach of Duty: The plaintiff has to verify that the defendant failed in this duty by not ensuring adequate security. Under Georgia law, landowners or occupiers are required to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe (O.C.G.A § 51-3-1).
- Causation: The plaintiff must provide evidence that this breach was the direct cause of the injuries incurred. In other words, the defendant’s mistake has to be the cause of the harm.
- Damages: Finally, the plaintiff needs to show proof of actual harm or injury resulting from the breach.
These are essential the same factors plaintiffs must prove in any personal injury case in Georgia.
Key Georgia Negligent Security Cases
- Georgia CVS Pharmacy LLC v. Carmichael (no citation yet) (2023). In this new key opinion just released in June 2023, the Georgia Supreme Court recently confirmed a $45 million verdict for man shot in an Atlanta CVS parking lot. This is not the first or the last time CVS has been sued for inadequate security. The court also revived a related negligent security case brought by a widow after a shooting at an Atlanta-area restaurant. The court asserted that the key question in premises liability cases involving criminal acts is whether circumstances at the premises gave the proprietor enough reason to foresee the criminal act causing the plaintiff’s injuries. This decision reasserts the importance of precedent of the Sturbridge Partners case we discuss next.
- Martin v. Six Flags Over Georgia II, L.P. The Supreme Court of Georgia laid out the factors that could indicate the reasonable foreseeability of a criminal attack. The court found that the foreseeability of future criminal acts can be demonstrated through evidence of prior criminal acts that are “substantially similar” to the ones in question. Additionally, the court acknowledged that the location of an establishment in a high crime area or a landowner’s awareness of a potentially volatile situation developing on the premises can contribute to establishing foreseeability. So the court determined that the attack on the victim was reasonably foreseeable, considering the presence of gangs at the park, previous gang-related incidents, and Six Flags’ knowledge of these risks. Therefore, Six Flags had a duty to protect its patrons, even if the attack occurred outside its premises. (The court reversed at the $35 million verdict on other grounds.)
- Sturbridge Partners, Ltd. v. Walker, 267 Ga. 785, 482 S.E.2d 339 (1997). The Supreme Court of Georgia established that an apartment complex could be held liable for a third-party criminal act when they fail to provide adequate security measures. The court ruled that Sturbridge Partners, as the property owner, had a duty of ordinary care to protect tenants from foreseeable harm. In this horrific case, the tenant was raped and sodomized in her apartment by an intruder due to the lack of a simple deadbolt lock on the door. The court also noted that previous crimes in the area made this crime foreseeable, shooting down defendant’s narrow definition of foreseeability that argued that the rape was not foreseeable because the prior crimes that put them on notice were burglaries during the day. This landmark case set a precedent for future negligent security cases that asserted that property owners could be held liable for third-party crimes if they fail to take reasonable security precautions.
- Days Inn of America v. Matt, 265 Ga. 235, 454 S.E.2d 507 (1995): The Georgia Supreme Court held that a property owner could be held liable for a third-party criminal act if the owner had reason to anticipate such an incident due to prior occurrences. The court ruled that an innkeeper has a duty to exercise ordinary care to protect guests from foreseeable harm, and this duty may include, as we talked about above, warning guests of known dangers or providing adequate security measures. In this case, Days Inn was found to have breached this duty due to their failure to warn guests about previous crimes in the area or take adequate steps to enhance security, thereby contributing to the assault of a guest in the motel’s parking lot.
How Do You Calculate Settlement Value in a Negligent Security Claim in Georgia?
Calculating settlement payouts in negligent security lawsuits in Georgia is not easy. The are almost invariably cases involving unthinkable tragedies. But insurance companies, attorneys, and ultimately juries must put a compensation payout on these cases. These are the key factors in calculating compensation payouts in Georgia inadequate security lawsuits.
- Liability: Every premises liability case in Georgia begins with whether you prove the defendant was responsible. To get to damages, you have to win the case.
- Economic Damages: This includes compensation for medical expenses (past, present, and future), lost wages (both past and future), property damage, and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the incident. These damages are important when the victim is still alive because juries use economic damages as an anchor when they compute damages. But so many inadequate security cases are wrongful death claims where economic damages are not important.
- Pain and Suffering: In addition to the direct costs, you may also be compensated for pain and suffering which is the key element of damages in almost any negligent security lawsuit in Georgia, a state that does not cap pain and suffering damages.
- Comparative Fault: Georgia operates under a modified comparative negligence rule. This means that if a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for their injuries, their damages can be reduced by the percentage of their fault. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 49% at fault, their damages will be reduced by 49%.
- Policy Limits: This is the most important element in some cases. Insurance policy limits can also impact the final settlement. If the negligent party’s insurance coverage isn’t enough to cover the total damages, the maximum settlement payout may be limited to the policy.
- Jurisdiction: There is no question that negligent security lawsuit in Atlanta have higher settlements and verdicts than you see in other areas of Georgia. The general rule – which we are wildly oversimplifying- is that the more urban the jury is, the higher the payout.
- Plaintiff and Defendant: How sympathetic the plaintiff is and how dislikable the defendant may be can have a real impact on settlement compensation. Defendants will pay more to avoid a trial when the dynamics of the parties involved go against them as they so often do in these cases.
Example Georgia Negligent Security Settlement Amounts and Jury Payouts
Below is a compilation of jury verdicts and settlements in Georgia negligent security cases. Seemingly similar cases can have different facts that make all of the difference in the world. So a case might look the same but the settlement compensation or jury award could have been swayed by factors that do not make these summaries.
Despite this, we include these verdicts and settlements as they can shed light on the potential value of such claims. Our lawyers use these data during settlement discussions to argue for higher compensation. These are the successful cases, providing insight when viewed in proper context.
- 2023, Jonesboro, $31 Million Verdict. A man was shot to death at the Avalon Mobile Home Park in Jonesboro, GA when he attempted to prevent a car from being stolen. His daughter sued the Mobile Home Park alleging that it failed to provide adequate security. The Mobile Home Park claimed that it was the decedent’s fault because he confronted a man with a gun. The jury in Clayton County awarded $31 million.
- 2023, Lawrenceville, $20 Million Verdict. A child attending a martial arts summer program was sexually assaulted by a fellow camper on at least two separate occasions in the restroom. As you can imagine, the child suffered emotional distress, post-traumatic stress, and depression as a result. Plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged negligence in failing to provide adequate security and supervision, and hiring or retaining competent staff to protect campers. A Gwinnett County jury awarded the child and his family $20,006,864.
- 2022, Atlanta, $290,000 Verdict. This is a negligent security lawsuit in Atlanta with much lower stakes than your average case. A resident at a condominium complex in Fulton County, GA, whose two classic vehicles were parked in the condominium’s garage, found them stolen. The contracted security services company and two of its officers were used for failing to prevent the theft. Surveillance footage showed unauthorized individuals scouting the garage and later stealing the vehicles. A verdict was ultimately delivered in favor of the resident against the security company and the default officer, with damages amounting to a $290,000 payout.
- 2019, Atlanta, $43 Million Verdict: The plaintiff was shot several times in a CVS parking lot in southeast Atlanta, where he had arranged to buy an iPad. CVS employees had been voicing concerns about their safety at this location for some time. An employee had been robbed at gunpoint just three weeks before Carmichael was shot. Plaintiff’s lawsuit argued that the criminal attack was highly predictable and could have been prevented. The parking lot where the shooting occurred had an exceptionally high rate of crime, including numerous incidents involving the theft of firearms. The plaintiff had $725,000 in medical bills due to the incident. CVS’s offer before trial? $250,000. A Fulton County jury made them regret that decision with a $45 million verdict that was reduced slightly by the jury’s finding that the plaintiff was 5% negligent. (This is the case that was affirmed by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2023 that we discuss above.)
- 2018, Decatur, $3 Million Settlement: A 15-year-old was fatally shot near an apartment complex in Decatur in January 2016. The teenager was a guest at the apartments when a group, not associated with the property, arrived with the intention of committing armed robbery. The deceased’s estate and parents sued the property owner, his companies, and the company allegedly providing security, for negligence, inadequate security, and wrongful death. They claimed that the apartment complex was accessible due to insufficient security measures such as non-functional gates, an unattended guardhouse, absence of security personnel, non-operational security cameras, and inadequate lighting. The defendants refuted the negligence claims, arguing the incident was unforeseeable, and that the victim was not on their property when shot. The security company maintained that their responsibility was to provide security for materials and equipment, not residents. Prior to trial, a settlement was reached with the property owner and his companies agreeing to pay the family $3 million.
- 2018, Atlanta, $1 Million Settlement: A 27-year-old man visiting friends at an apartment complex in Atlanta was approached by four men in the parking lot with the intent to rob him. The man was shot in the back while escaping but managed to reach a nearby residential area, where he collapsed. He was subsequently taken to Grady Memorial, where he underwent successful surgery to remove the bullet. The victim hired an inadequate security lawyer in Atlanta to sue the owner/manager of the apartment complex for negligent security. The defendants, in response, denied negligence, contending that the shooting was unforeseeable, but agreed to settle the lawsuit for $1 million.
- 2014, Atlanta, $3.25 Million Verdict: A 49-year-old was tragically murdered in the parking lot of a condo complex in Atlanta after purchasing a television from an associate. This associate, along with two others, followed the victim to his apartment complex with a plan to rob him, knowing he had $300 on him. The group easily passed through the security gate. They blocked the victim’s vehicle, approached him, and shot him. The victim’s widow hired an Atlanta negligent security lawyer to file a lawsuit against the Condominium Association and their contracted security company for negligence and wrongful death, arguing they failed to provide adequate security and maintain safety. The fly-by-night security security company was uninsured. A default judgment was entered against it. So the widow’s attorneys successfully drilled down on the Condo Association, successfully arguing that they had not taken reasonable steps to ensure safety.
Hiring a Negligent Security Lawyer in Georgia
Our law firm handles negligent security cases through the country. We partner in Georgia with who our attorney believe are the best negligent security lawyers in Atlanta. So you have two law firms working for you – for the price of one – to maximize your settlement compensation or jury award. We offer free consultations to help you figure out your best path to justice and a payout that matches your suffering. Call us today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.