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If I was assaulted at a business, can I sue the business?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Negligent Security

When you go shopping or to any business, the one thing you do not expect to happen is a violent crime. And, you definitely do not expect to be the victim of one. However, should the unthinkable happen, and you are assaulted at a business, can you sue that business? Perhaps, yes. In Georgia, victims of crimes such as assault may, in some cases, sue the property owners or operators where the crime occurred under the state’s premises liability law.

Understanding negligent security liability

Negligent security is a branch of premises liability law that holds property owners accountable for failing to take reasonable security measures to prevent violent crimes. If a property owner is aware of potential security risks and does nothing to mitigate them, they can be held liable for negligent security.

Key elements of a negligent security claim

To successfully file a negligent security claim in Georgia, elements must be established, which mirror a typical negligence claim. First, is the duty of care. Property owners must ensure the safety of visitors by taking reasonable security measures. Second, is that the property owner breached this duty. This occurs when property owners fail to meet the expected standard of care, such as having inadequate lighting, broken security systems or insufficient surveillance.

Third, the injured party must prove that the property owner should have reasonably anticipated the potential for criminal activity (foreseeability). Fourth, there must be a direct link between the property owner’s negligence and the harm suffered by the victim (causation). And, finally, there is damages. The victim must demonstrate that they suffered actual damages due to the lack of security.

When does negligent security liability apply?

Negligent security liability applies in cases of assault, robbery, battery, sexual assault or wrongful death caused by inadequate security measures. If there has been a history of criminal activity on or near the property, it is reasonable to expect the property owner to take steps to prevent harm. Failure to do so may result in liability under a negligent security claim.