Georgia Lawyers Encourage Owners to Implement Reasonable Security Measures

Georgia Inadequate Security cases are complex and time consuming but rewarding in that I can help encourage property owners to behave responsibly. Inadequate security cases are grounded in general premises liability law and therefore the entire analysis begins and ends with superior knowledge. As I explained in my articles on what is the law in Georgia on slip and fall cases, the liability of the land owner stems from the fact that they know their property better than you do and have a duty to keep the property free from hazards through the exercise of ordinary care. On the left you will see what can happen to a client when an apartment complex fails to implement any security measures resulting in a car jacking and two rounds being fired into the his abdomen.
Georgia inadequate security lawyer

Prior Crimes Create a Duty to Take Reasonable Security Precautions

These same general principles also apply in third party criminal attack cases. Third party criminal attacks include rape at a Georgia apartment, assaults and murder. If the victim is an invitee(as opposed to a trespasser) then the first thing to analyze is the prior crime on the property. There must be sufficient prior crime on the property to put the property owner on notice that they need to take action. Once the owner is on notice, they have a duty to exercise ordinary care to safeguard the invitee from danger. That does not mean that every possible measure must be taken, but it does mean that industry customs must be followed and reasonable measures must be implemented.


For example, I am litigating two of these cases right now. In one, an apartment complex attack, we have over 50 prior crimes including prior assaults with a handgun and a prior shooting. Our victim was carjacked and shot in the stomach in Decatur Georgia. He sustained serious injuries and will be horribly scarred for the rest of his life. In this case we have determined that the apartment complex (with over 700 apartments) had no security patrol and very likely no security presence at all.

In every one of these cases, your negligent security lawyer should hire a security expert to focus the investigation on reasonable steps the property owner could have taken but did not take. An injury lawyer would know to request the crime grid for the entire property prior filing suit. That way, a complete analysis of the prior crime can be completed before discovery even starts.

What Precautions Must They Take?

Once you establish that there is sufficient prior crime to put the property owner on notice then the question is what security could they have implemented and what did they do. For example, if a complex has armed security patrols on a frequent basis, good locks on the doors and adequate lighting, then these cases can often fail. As a society, we want to reward the good actors with immunity from liability. We want well guarded and maintained apartments and stores. However, many apartments have no security. There is no bright line test for what is adequate security and what is not. Each case is different and the level of prior crime and the practicality of defending the complex plays a huge role.

In Brookview Holdings v. Suarez 285 Ga.App. 90, 645 S.E.2d 559 (2007), the Defendant apartment complex tried to get out of the case arguing that the Plaintiff could not prove that keeping security on the property would have prevented the attack. In fairness, you must know that Saurez was an easier case because the victim was a tenant and the complex charged extra money for security, so there was a breach of contact claim in play in addition to the common law duties. That said, the Court’s analysis of the importance of the expert testimony on security and crime in general echoes what juries have told me after our trials. (Please note, I cannot properly indent the quote in a blog, thus the quotes)

“Suarez relied upon the testimony of an expert in security services, who investigated the area in which the attack on Mr. Pantoja occurred and the surrounding neighborhoods. He found that Augusta Estates bordered “an extremely high-crime area,” and also testified that Brookview breached “a reasonable standard of care” by suspending the security. The expert further opined that “based upon the victimology, based upon the time frame of the assaults” the perpetrator of the attack on Mr. Pantoja was “an opportunistic offender, a disorganized offender, the kind of offender that we typically see can be deterred through effective presence of security.” The expert also opined that when security is suspended in a high-crime area, “you have an expectation that a criminal event is going to occur,” and that if security had been in place, “it would have significantly reduced the likelihood of it occurring.” Additionally, the expert also stated that in his opinion even a roving security patrol can be very effective in reducing crime, as long as the patrolling is done randomly. “It’s showing up when you’re not expected, where you are not expected; and that can be very effective in reducing crime.”
The plaintiffs also relied upon the deposition of the investigating deputy sheriff who stated that Brookview’s failure to have security patrols was a cause in fact of the attack on Mr. Pantoja because a security patrol would have surveilled the incident whether the assailant was a tenant or trespasser. The deputy testified that, based upon the security which had been provided, his knowledge of the crime statistics from the area, and his familiarity with Augusta Estates and the surrounding area, it was more likely than not that the attacks on Mr. Pantoja and the other resident would not have *96 occurred had security been in place. The deputy also testified that one could look at the area and decide that security was necessary.
Additionally, the deputy testified that on-site security, regardless of the hours, gives a place a reputation that creates the impression of a high-visibility security situation. Criminals do not know the schedule of the security guards; they only know that they see security on site and think that security is always present. Brookview Holdings v. Suarez 285 Ga.App. 90, 645 S.E.2d 559 (2007)
Georgia Inadequate Security cases can be heartbreaking because many of the murders, rapes and assaults would have been preventable had the property owner just done the bare minimum of placing a $17.00 an hour security patrol on the premises. There is no code section in <a href=”uarez relied upon the testimony of an expert in security services, who investigated the area in which the attack on Mr. Pantoja occurred and the surrounding neighborhoods. He found that Augusta Estates bordered “an extremely high-crime area,” and also testified that Brookview breached “a reasonable standard of care” by suspending the security. The expert further opined that “based upon the victimology, based upon the time frame of the assaults” the perpetrator of the attack on Mr. Pantoja was “an opportunistic offender, a disorganized offender, the kind of offender that we typically see can be deterred through effective presence of security.” The expert also opined that when security is suspended in a high-crime area, “you have an expectation that a criminal event is going to occur,” and that if security had been in place, “it would have significantly reduced the likelihood of it occurring.” Additionally, the expert also stated that in his opinion even a roving security patrol can be very effective in reducing crime, as long as the patrolling is done randomly. “It’s showing up when you’re not expected, where you are not expected; and that can be very effective in reducing crime.” The plaintiffs also relied upon the deposition of the investigating deputy sheriff who stated that Brookview’s failure to have security patrols was a cause in fact of the attack on Mr. Pantoja because a security patrol would have surveilled the incident whether the assailant was a tenant or trespasser. The deputy testified that, based upon the security which had been provided, his knowledge of the crime statistics from the area, and his familiarity with Augusta Estates and the surrounding area, it was more likely than not that the attacks on Mr. Pantoja and the other resident would not have *96 occurred had security been in place. The deputy also testified that one could look at the area and decide that security was necessary. Additionally, the deputy testified that on-site security, regardless of the hours, gives a place a reputation that creates the impression of a high-visibility security situation. Criminals do not know the schedule of the security guards; they only know that they see security on site and think that security is always present. Brookview Holdings v. Suarez 285 Ga.App. 90, 645 S.E.2d 559 Ga.App.,2007.” There is no law in Georgia that requires apartments to have security patrols, but thankfully the common law provides a punishment for those that do not.