Q: Can I sue a property owner if I am assaulted on his or her property?
An owner may in some cases be liable if someone has been assaulted on his or her Atlanta property. This depends on whether or not it was related to the property owner’s negligence.
Establishing a Duty of Care
Whether an assault occurs at a private residence or public building, the first thing that must be established is whether or not a duty of care was owed to the victim. This means the owner was expected to act in a reasonable manner in order to prevent harm to a guest, invitee, patron or whomever visits.
In most cases, these incidences occur at a public setting such as a hotel, fitness center, restaurant, bar, etc. It’s easier to establish the duty of care that owners in these places owe to those who patronize their establishment.
The second element in a premises liability case is establishing that the duty of care was breached in some way. To hold an owner responsible for an assault on his or her property, it must be shown he/she was negligent.
For instance, if somebody is assaulted in a parking lot outside of a commercial establishment, the owner or manager of the parking lot may be liable in a civil claim if its negligent contributed to the assault. This might be the case if the owner failed to fix lights in the parking lot for several weeks.
Owners who provide negligent security when it's common knowledge that crimes happen on or near the premises may be civilly liable for an assault. It could be that a hotel fails to install locks on windows, for example, that allowed an intruder to enter a hotel room.
Of course, if an owner had provided all necessary security features and the assault occurred anyway, the property owner may not be negligent.
- ensuring the lights are working;
- installing security cameras;
- hiring a security guard; and
- making sure all locks work.
Talk to attorney Jason R. Schultz if you were assaulted in the Atlanta area and believe a property owner may be liable for your damages. Contact us online or call (404) 474-0804 to set up a consultation.