Shooting victims or the surviving relatives have the right to file a negligent security claim if they suspect a business failed to provide adequate security to prevent the attack from happening. This type of claim allows injured victims to seek compensation for their suffering after the attack.
Investigating a negligent security claim is not easy, especially when the victim is recovering from gunshot wounds. In the case of a deadly shooting, the family of the victim may be in mourning. They don’t have the time or emotional bandwidth to handle an investigation on their own.
Georgia Gun Violence
In 2019, Georgia had the 15th highest gun death rate in the country with 1,695 gun deaths. Homicides and other reasons contributed to 44% of these deaths. Young Black males ages 15-34 are disproportionately impacted by firearm homicide.
According to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV), the Georgia counties with the highest gun death rate were McDuffie, Crisp, and Wilkes. Forsyth, Whitfield, and Oconee counties had the lowest rates. Within Metro Atlanta, higher rates of gun violence skewed toward the southeastern counties, particularly Newton.
Since 2014, Georgians have experienced more than 5,000 homicides, nearly 7,800 gunshot injuries, and 129 mass shootings.
Reasonable Security Measures
Owners of a business or property have a duty to protect lawful visitors from a foreseeable crime by a third person. By implementing reasonable security measures, it is assumed that the crime (assault, shooting, stabbing, etc.) could have either been prevented or made less likely to happen.
However, a victim of a crime does not have a legal right to file a negligent security claim just because they were injured on a business’s property, or because they were the victim of a criminal act while on the property.
It must be proven that the owner owed some kind of legal duty to the person on their property but failed to put in place the necessary security measures.
What Type of Establishments Can Be Held Liable in an Inadequate Security Claim?
Here is a list of examples of the types of places that can be held liable after a shooting:
- Apartments and apartment complexes
- Banks and ATMs
- Bars, nightclubs, and liquor stores
- College and university campuses
- Concerts and amphitheaters
- Construction sites
- Convenience stores
- Gas stations
- Hotels, motels, and resorts
- MARTA stations and parking lots
- Mental health facilities
- Movie theaters
- Nursing home and assisted living facilities
- Office buildings, complexes, and parks
- Parking lots, garages, and decks
- Places of worship
- Shopping centers, malls, retail stores, and outlets
Why It May Be Necessary to File a Claim Against the Business or Property Owner
Some people feel hesitant to sue a business. They might not feel justified in going after an entity that wasn’t the person directly responsible for shooting or harming them.
But there are several reasons to consider on why a negligent security claim is appropriate:
- Sometimes the shooter is never caught.
- The shooting may never have happened if the business had implemented the necessary security.
- The business owner, management company, or security company for that property is more likely to have insurance to help pay claims for their negligence.
- Pursuing claims against the owners or responsible entities will encourage them and others to have the necessary security systems in place to protect people on their property and hopefully prevent future attacks.
Who Can File a Negligent Security Claim?
If the shooting victim survives the attack, has the mental and emotional wherewithal to make an informed decision, and is at least 18 years old, then they have the right to file a claim.
If the victim is a minor, a parent or guardian can bring the claim on their behalf. Some cases may require a guardian to be appointed to pursue the claim and monitor any recovery on the victim’s behalf, especially if they are a child or mentally incapacitated.
What If a Victim Dies During or After the Shooting?
If the shooting victim was married at the time of their death, then the claim belongs to the surviving spouse. Unmarried significant others cannot file a claim for their wrongful death.
Georgia law states that if there is no surviving spouse, the claim goes to the surviving children of the deceased. A court will then appoint someone to handle the claim on their behalf.
Atlanta’s Lawyer for Shooting Victims
Shootings are highly traumatic events. If a business failed to do everything reasonable to prevent violence on their property, then they, along with the criminal who fired the shots, need to be held accountable.
At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we can handle negligent security cases for Atlanta shooting victims that involve an active shooter, deadly shootings, and cases where the gunman is never found.
Our negligent security lawyers understand the complexities of Georgia law and how to investigate property owners. We can help get you the maximum financial compensation you need while healing from life-threatening injuries or grieving the loss of a loved one.
Call (770) 934-8000 for a free consultation or contact us online.