The property owner can be liable if you suffer injuries because an apartment complex failed to take reasonable measures to keep you safe while on the property or did not take steps to prevent foreseeable assaults or attacks. Georgia law makes landowners responsible to people who get hurt as a result of negligent security.
What Constitutes Negligent Security at an Apartment Complex
If all four of these factors occurred, the apartment complex is liable for injuries from negligent security:
1. The apartment complex owed the plaintiff (injured person) a legal duty of care. The complex has to take reasonable measures to keep the apartment complex and its approaches safe for everyone who is present legally. Approaches include things like sidewalks, parking lots, and garages.
The duty of care applies to the residents, their guests, employees of the apartment, vendors, visitors, and others who are on the premises for a lawful purpose. For example, a letter carrier or meter reader has the protection of Georgia law because they are on the property for a legitimate reason. On the other hand, the landowner has no duty to provide adequate security for a trespasser.
By way of example, an apartment complex employs several maintenance persons who enter the individual units to repair problems that the residents report to the manager. The company has a duty to hire trustworthy people for this job, since the residents are in a vulnerable position when someone goes into their apartments.
2. The apartment complex violated its duty of care. If the apartment failed to provide security for the circumstances, it breached its duty of care. It is negligence when someone fails to meet the requirements of a duty of care.
Someone stole keys from a wall case in the apartment manager’s office. Although she discovered the theft, the manager took no steps to prevent foreseeable harm from this situation, like changing the locks.
A new handyman at the complex stole the keys. The handyman had a criminal record of breaking and entering. The apartment complex did not know about his criminal history because the company did not perform a background check when it hired him.
Also, the company did not have security cameras in the office or anywhere at the complex. Footage from security cameras could have shown who stole the keys and recorded who went into specific apartments.
3. The plaintiff suffered harm because of the apartment’s negligent security.
The handyman used the stolen keys to enter residents’ apartments and steal their valuables. A resident who was home sick for the day surprised the handyman when he came into her bedroom to steal her jewelry. She screamed, and he struck her, knocking her unconscious. She sustained a traumatic brain injury.
The negligent security at the apartment complex caused the harm to the plaintiff. The company is liable to the injured person.
4. Adequate security would have prevented the crime. The complex made multiple mistakes, all of which contributed to the harm the plaintiff experienced. It was foreseeable that someone would use the stolen keys to break into apartments and that someone could get hurt as a result.
- Even though the manager knew that the maintenance people went into the homes of the residents, putting those residents at risk of harm, the company did not do background checks on these employees. The failure to perform a routine background check including a criminal record check allowed a dangerous person with a criminal record to have access to apartments. Adequate security includes hiring trustworthy people. Running background checks would have prevented this crime.
- Failing to store the keys in a locked place in the office gave the criminal the opportunity to break into apartments. Properly securing the keys would have prevented the crime. It was foreseeable that someone might steal keys that were accessible.
- Failing to take steps to protect the residents from harm upon discovering that someone had stolen keys is negligent security. Changing the locks and warning residents would have prevented the crime. It was foreseeable that someone would use the stolen keys to break into apartments.
- The manager did not install security cameras to deter criminal activity in the office or throughout the apartment complex. Security cameras could have caused the crook to choose not to steal the keys, or have documented who stole the keys so that the manager could call the police with the identity of the thief. It was foreseeable that an apartment complex with no security cameras would be at greater risk of criminal activity.
Getting Legal Help for an Injury from Negligent Security at an Apartment Complex
You can call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC for help if you got hurt because of negligent security at an apartment complex. We will be happy to talk with you and let you know if you might be eligible for compensation. Call us today at 404-474-0804, to set up your free consultation.