If inadequate security contributed to a sexual assault, it could be grounds for a legal case. But it’s not enough to say that someone is responsible for a sexual assault. You must prove something called “causation” under the law.
Below, we’ll look at what causation means and why it matters to prove negligent security in a sexual assault case.
Understanding Legal Causation
Causation is vital for any personal injury claim. Under the law, causation means you must prove that the person or party you’re bringing a case against caused your injuries. This person or party is also known as the “defendant” in an injury case.
You cannot merely say that someone should pay for your damages. You have to establish how they are at fault.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, causation has two parts:
- “Cause in fact”
- “Proximate cause”
You must prove both types of causes in a personal injury claim.
Cause in Fact
Cause in fact shows that someone’s actions caused an injury. In this case, the injury is a sexual assault. Your claim must show that the assault wouldn’t have happened without the defendant’s actions or inactions.
For example, property owners must ensure their premises are safe for visitors and customers. If an owner doesn’t take certain precautions, they can put people at risk. A sexual assault on a property might happen because the owner failed to provide proper security.
Cause in fact shows that the assault wouldn’t have happened if there had been better security. Your lawyer will gather evidence that lack of adequate security was a cause of the sexual assault.
Proximate cause is about predicting the risk of sexual assault. This is also known as “foreseeability.”
For example, an apartment complex should be familiar with the safety of an area. If there had been reports of sexual assault in the neighborhood before, the apartment owner knew there was a risk. If they failed to protect tenants and visitors, they could be liable for an assault on their property.
The property owner must have known (or should have known) there was a reason to provide adequate protection.
Property Owners’ Duty of Care
Most people have no duty to control the actions of another person. If someone attacks another person, that attacker is responsible for their actions. However, there are exceptions when an assault happens on someone’s property.
Property owners and businesses have a duty of care to those they invite onto their property. They must maintain safe premises. If that doesn’t happen and an injury occurs, the owner could be liable.
Sexual assaults are no exception. If you were assaulted on a property, you could have a claim against the owner. Talk to a lawyer today about your compensation rights.
John Foy & Associates can help. We have 20-plus years of experience helping victims seek justice. Call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Proving Negligent Security Caused a Sexual Assault
There are many steps to establishing causation for sexual assault. When the case involves negligent security, it falls under premises liability law. It’s best to contact a lawyer with experience in premises liability related to sexual assaults.
Your lawyer will gather evidence to support your claim in various ways. They will investigate the assault and where it happened. They’ll also prepare for any defenses the property owner brings.
The property owner might argue that they had no way of knowing the assault would happen. Your lawyer will work to gather evidence that:
- There were reasons for the owner to know about risks (like a history of similar assaults)
- The owner did not provide adequate security compared to the risk
- The owner should have known about security risks even if they didn’t
Property owners have a duty of care. If they breach that duty of care, it’s known as negligence. Failing to provide proper security can be a type of negligence in a sexual assault case.
You’ll need to show that the assault wouldn’t have happened if the property owner had been more careful. In many cases, poor security is the lack of care.
Examples of Negligent Security
Property owners should take safety seriously. Types of poor security that may lead to assaults include:
- Lack of fencing or gates
- Not providing security guards or officers
- Poor hiring for security personnel
- Inadequate locks on doors and windows
- Allowing hedges or other landscaping to become overgrown
These are just a few examples. Your lawyer will investigate the details of your specific situation.
Suing the Assault vs. the Property Owner
Of course, the person who committed the assault is directly at fault for what happened. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to bring a case against this person. The assault could have fled, and it might be challenging to identify them.
Even if you find the assaulter, you could have a third-party claim against the property owner. You might bring a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your damages, as stated under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-12-4. If the owner’s actions contributed to the assault, you may have a case.
Property owners often have insurance to cover injuries on their property. If you file a claim, you can fight for a settlement to cover your costs.
Handling the Insurance Company
Insurance companies will look for any way to reduce a settlement. Even with something as serious as sexual assault, insurers don’t want to pay. Make sure you have a lawyer who can fight for the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies often offer a victim a settlement upfront. However, the amount is always meager—never enough to cover your damages. If you get a settlement offer, contact a lawyer. Do not accept any money without obtaining legal counsel first.
Our team of sexual assault lawyers knows what it takes to establish causation and build solid cases. We’re not afraid to fight for your rights. If you or a loved one were victims, get the power of the “Strong Arm” today.
Speak with a Sexual Assault Lawyer for Free Today
Get the legal help you need today. Call us for a free consultation. We do not charge a fee unless we win you compensation. Call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for a free consultation today.