Gated Community & Property Liability
One of the appeals for moving to a gated community is the sense of safety it provides. There's less chance of traffic accidents and criminal activity. But as with anything in life, there are no guarantees. If something goes wrong and it results in injury, it's important to understand how property liability may apply.
Can I file a premises liability claim against a gated community?
Injuries that occur on any type of property can sometimes stem from unsafe conditions. To show liability, there must be evidence that the owner was negligent.
Another important element in this type of claim is showing that the owner's negligence caused or contributed to injury. Even if it wasn't the sole reason for suffering physical harm, liability may apply if it significantly contributed to it. These standards also apply to a premises liability claim involving a gated community.
What types of negligence could lead to filing a premises liability claim against a gated community?
One of the most common forms of negligence that applies to a gated community is inadequate security. After all, safety is one of the primary reasons people choose to live in this setting. For instance, residents expect less crime because of the gate(s). Consider some of the following examples in which negligent security measures could be to blame for injuries.
Failure to Control Access
Most gated communities control access through a guard booth or an automatic gate opened by residents. Let's say a security guard allows someone to pass through the gate without checking identification. If that person ends up assaulting and injuring a resident, owner liability may apply to the gated community.
Another example is when the automatic gate malfunctions. Those without an access card may be able to enter without permission. Again, if this results in someone getting injured, community liability could apply.
Known Criminal Activity
Another example is when the community or homeowner’s association knows about previous crimes and doesn't take precautions to protect residents. In fact, criminals may target gated communities if they believe there's a better chance that homes will have valuables.
Ignoring signs of criminal activity, or worse, resident complaints about criminal activity can also be considered negligence. Another is failing to warn residents, whether it's crimes such as homicide, rape, robbery or assault.
Not having proper lighting is another example of inadequate security. This could apply to isolated areas, parking lots or other community-utilized places like a pool.
It's important to inspect, maintain and repair any type of equipment that helps with security. If not, it could be the cause of injuries.
Examples of broken equipment that a gated community should maintain include:
- locks; and
- security cameras.
How do you prove gated community liability in a claim?
There are two main issues to consider with a property liability case. The first is proving negligence. Some circumstances are easier to prove than others. For instance, you can take a picture of a broken latch. If the problem was with the gate, you might videotape your ability to get inside without using the access card. And if it's a matter of lax security, other residents may provide testimony as well.
The second issue is proving the injuries sustained. This requires connecting the act of negligence to the physical harm suffered. It also means showing the extent and severity of one's injuries.
Medical records are the best way to establish injuries, which may include:
- hospital discharge papers; and
- notes from a doctor.
Property liability cases are oftentimes difficult to prove. And a gated community presents unique challenges. It's best to contact an attorney to learn if you have a case and if so, options available to you.
Legal counsel can also explain the types of damages that you may seek in a claim such as:
- medical bills;
- lost wages; and
- mental anguish.
Contact Jason R. Schultz in Peachtree City for legal representation in these cases. Call us at 404-474-0804 or use our contact form to set up a consultation.