There has been a rise in violent crime across Atlanta and neighboring cities this year. Murders, shootings, sexual assaults, robberies, and aggravated assaults have all seen an alarming spike, and no one is sure of what the causes are yet.
Despite the emotional and physical trauma surrounding a crime, injured victims aren’t without recourse. They may be entitled to financial compensation depending on several key factors.
Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights
Also known as Marsy’s Law, the Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights (O.C.G.A. 17-17-1) was instituted in 2019. The law provides victims of certain crimes with specific rights that are constitutionally protected and enforced.
The Crime Victim Bill of Rights applies to victims of the following crimes:
- All sexual offenses
- Arson, bombs, and explosives
- Assault and battery
- Cruelty to a person 65 years of age or older
- Cruelty to children
- Elder abuse
- Feticide by vehicle
- Forgery, deposit account fraud, illegal use of financial transaction cards, other fraud-related offenses, computer crimes, and identity theft
- Homicide by vehicle
- Kidnapping, false imprisonment, and related offenses
- Reckless conduct
- Sale or distribution of harmful materials to minors
- Serious injury by vehicle
- Stalking and aggravated stalking
Victims of such crimes have the right...
- To be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case.
- To proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
- To be notified of the Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights.
- To be notified of community-based victim service programs.
- To reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of the following:
- An arrest warrant being issued for the accused.
- The accused’s arrest.
- The condition that the accused is prohibited from contacting the victim.
- The accused’s release or escape from custody.
- Any court proceeding where the release of the accused will be considered.
- Any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings, including restitution hearings.
- The accused’s release on an electronic release and/or monitoring program.
- To be present at all criminal proceedings in which the accused has the right to be present
- To not be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings, except as provided in O.C.G.A. §17-17-1 or otherwise provided by law.
- To a waiting area, during judicial proceedings, that is separate from the accused and his or her relatives, friends, and witnesses.
- To be reasonably heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused
- To complete a Victim Impact Statement and have it presented to the court prior to the trial or plea of the accused.
- To restitution as provided by law.
- To refuse to submit to an interview by the accused, accused’s attorney, or agent of the accused
- To a requirement by the court that defense counsel not to disclose victim information to the accused.
- To be notified by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) if the accused is committed to the DBHDD for an evaluation, as mentally incompetent to stand trial, or as not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of the crime. Upon the written request of the victim, at least 10 days before the release or discharge, the department shall mail notice to the victim of the accused’s release from such facility.
- To request not to receive any form of written, text, or electronic communication from an inmate who was convicted of a criminal offense against the victim.
- To be advised on how to file a complaint with the Judicial Qualification Commission if a judge denies the victim’s right to be heard.
One of the items that criminal justice agencies are responsible for advising crime victims is that they may be eligible for monetary compensation. Such compensation would cover certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of their victimization.
You can find out if you qualify by going to the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program website or calling (404) 657-2222.
Violent Crime Injury Claim
The person who injured you or a loved one during the crime may not be the only party who can be held responsible. Owners of private businesses, commercial properties like restaurants and shopping centers, and apartment complexes all owe a duty of care to customers, employees, and residents while they are on the premises.
A personal injury attorney can investigate to see if they had inadequate or negligent security issues that might have prevented the crime from occurring in the first place. If successful, the injured victim can receive compensation for the damages inflicted against them.
To prove the commercial establishment was negligent by not providing security or by having inadequate security, we have to examine:
- Prior crimes. The most common way to prove a business is liable for these types of incidents is by establishing the company knew or should have known about prior crimes in the area. One way to do this is by securing the crime reports from the local police department through an open records request.
- The defendant business owner’s internal reports. Also admissible are the defendant business’s internal reports that may have identified prior crimes in the area. This means that the owners knew the area was unsafe but didn’t take steps to sufficiently secure their property.
- Existing security practices. We can often establish a standard of care a business should use to protect others by showing what other similarly situated businesses do in the area. Also, even though a business may state it has safety rules and regulations, it may not have been following them.
- Prior victims. Interviews with prior victims of similar crimes at the property or in the area are especially helpful. They can provide further evidence showing the business knew of the prior incidents but did nothing to address the situation.
- Security experts. Security experts can help establish that the defendant business owner breached the standard of care by not having security when needed or by having an inadequate amount of security.
The handling of a premises liability/inadequate security case can be a challenging effort. It is certainly not something you will want to do on your own. You need an experienced attorney by your side during the process.
Talk to an Atlanta Violent Crimes Lawyer
If you or a family member was the victim of a violent attack at a commercial establishment, a building, a parking lot, or an apartment complex, the insurance company for the business may try to reach out to you. They will likely try to tell you there is no need to call a lawyer and that they can settle everything.
Negotiating with the insurance company on your own, however, presents many pitfalls and can put your claim in jeopardy.
You won’t know if you’re getting a fair settlement or what your obligations are for repaying your health care provider. Statute of limitations and filing deadlines can vary depending on who the defendant is and what the courts require. The insurance company may drag its feet getting back to you or simply ignore your requests.
Making phone calls, sending emails, securing eye witness statements, interpreting medical records — all of this and more takes a great deal of time and effort that many people don’t have.
Crime victims deserve compensation for their losses. At Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we fight to make sure you receive every dollar possible for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional suffering.
Don’t delay in seeking justice. Contact us today for a free consultation about your personal injury claim caused by a violent crime and lack of security.