Property owners or property occupiers (including business owners and landlords) have a legal duty to keep their premises safe. If that duty is breached and someone is injured, the owner or occupier is liable for the damages. This duty includes protecting visitors from third-party criminal activity, so yes, premises liability can cover assault in Georgia.
How Premises Liability Covers Assault in Georgia
Criminal activity is possible in any business or on any property. In the same way, potential hazards or dangerous conditions can be present at any location. Property owners and occupiers have a duty to protect customers and visitors from both types of threats.
If a third-party criminal act, such as assault, happens on a property and it could have been prevented through better security measures, the owner can be found negligent. That means they would be responsible for any resulting injuries and damages.
A property owner or business owner is not automatically liable for an assault that happens on their property, however. To be found negligent, the following elements must exist:
- There was a duty to keep the premises safe.
- That duty was breached.
- Your injuries resulted from the breached duty.
- You have damages as a result of those injuries.
If you were injured during an assault on someone else’s property, you will need to be able to prove the above points to have a valid premises liability claim. This might seem difficult, but an experienced Georgia premises liability lawyer can help you investigate the assault and gather evidence for your claim.
Who Is Covered By the Duty of Care?
The role you have in relation to the property or business owner matters, too. There are three main roles mentioned under Georgia law:
- Invitees include anyone who was invited or induced onto the property. They include customers at stores, shopping malls, gas stations, amusement parks, or other businesses, patients at hospitals, and tenants at apartment complexes.
- Licensees include anyone who is one the property for their own purposes, not with the owner’s invitation. For example, salesmen would typically fill the role of licensees.
- Trespassers are illegally on someone’s property.
Georgia Code § 51-3-1 says owners and occupiers must exercise ordinary care in keeping their premises safe for invitees. Owners do not have the same duty of care to licensees and trespassers. A property owner or business owner would only be liable for injuries to licensees or trespassers on their property if there is a “willful or wanton” injury (Georgia Code § 51-3-2).
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The Assault Might Have Been Foreseeable
In security issues like assault in Georgia, the property owner or occupier must also have been able to foresee the criminal activity. For example, situations that the courts might deem foreseeable by a property owner include:
- Having a property in a high-crime area of town where higher security measures are expected
- Knowing that similar crimes have happened recently in the same building or the same premises
- Having knowledge of an inflammatory situation that could easily end in assault or some other crime
A good example of the last point is the case Good Ol’ Days Downtown, Inc. v. Yancey where one restaurant customer assaulted another customer. Because the first customer had been yelling at the other for more than five minutes before the assault, becoming increasingly loud and impatient.
The restaurant was found to be liable because it was ruled they should have “foreseen” the assault based on the assailant’s aggressive yelling.
Ways a Property Owner or Business Owner Could Be Negligent in an Assault
When a business owner or property owner has good reason to foresee criminal acts on their property, they have a duty to protect invitees to their property. This includes “exercising ordinary care” in keeping their premises safe.
When the owner is negligent in providing adequate security, they can be found liable in an assault on their property resulting from that lack of security.
Here are some examples of how an owner or occupier fight be negligent in security:
- Not providing sufficient security personnel or guards to protect the property from crime
- Improper training (or hiring) of security personnel
- Not keeping doors, windows, gates, or fences in good condition
- Having poor lighting, security cameras, alarm systems, or other security equipment
In the state of Georgia, the burden is on the injured individual when it comes to bringing a case. That means you will need to file the premises liability claim with the owner or occupier’s insurance company. You’ll also need to prove that they were negligent and that your injuries were caused by that negligence.
Premises liability cases can become very complicated when they involve assault. The property owner or their insurance company will likely look for ways to reduce their liability and distance themselves from the assault crime. It’s best to hire a Georgia premises liability lawyer as soon as possible so they can make sure your rights are upheld and all facts are presented.
Damages Covered After Assault Due to Negligence
If you are able to show that the property owner or business owner was negligent in your assault, you can claim damages for the losses you face because of your injuries. Those damages may include:
- Medical costs like doctor bills, prescription medications, physical therapy, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages from missed work time
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering damages
If the assault involved malicious or wanton behavior, you may also be eligible for punitive damages in your claim. These are meant to punish and discourage future similar behavior. Punitive damages are typically capped at $250,000 in Georgia injury cases, while the other types of damages are rarely capped.
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Talk to a Georgia Premises Liability Lawyer for Free Today
Were you injured because of assault or other forms of third-party criminal activity on someone else’s property? You should not have to pay for your damages just because the property owner or business was negligent. John Foy & Associates can make sure the owner or occupier is held responsible for their carelessness.
Our attorneys have been helping injury victims win the money they need for over 20 years. We can help you, too, starting with a FREE consultation. Call us today at (404) 400-4000or contact us online to get started with your FREE consultation.