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Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Property Owner After an Assault?

Assaults of any type in the Atlanta area can be devastating, resulting in serious physical injuries and substantial psychological harm. While an assault victim may feel some relief when the perpetrator is held criminally accountable, those criminal charges do not take into account the significant financial and emotional losses that the victim has experienced. Accordingly, an assault victim might seek information about filing a personal injury claim in order to recover damages for medical bills, as well as for subjective, non-economic losses like pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of life due to emotional trauma. Although it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the perpetrator of the assault, these cases do not often allow the assault victim to obtain full and fair financial compensation. Instead, the assault victim may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the property owner where the assault occurred.

In assault cases that occurred on another party’s property—such as a mall or nightclub parking lot, or a hotel or motel—the owner or manager of the property may be liable for damages according to premises liability law. In short, if inadequate or negligent security caused or contributed to the assault, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner.

How Do Inadequate Security Claims Work in Georgia?

How can a property owner be responsible for damages caused by a third-party assault on their property? In short, Georgia premises liability law holds that a property owner (or anyone in control of a property, such as a commercial tenant) has a responsibility to ensure that the property is reasonably safe for use, particularly for customers who may be on the property. Under this theory of liability, a commercial property owner or tenant can be liable if their inadequate security on the premises was negligent.

How can an assault victim prove that the property owner or tenant was negligent? It is important to know that property owners are not liable for any and all assaults or other criminal actions that occur on their property. Rather, property owners or tenants can only be held liable when their failure to provide adequate security constituted negligence. In general, Georgia courts say that the assault must have been foreseeable, which an assault victim may be able to prove in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Assault occurred in an area with a high rate of crime;
  • Substantially similar crimes have happened at this particular place; or
  • Volatile situation arose on the premises that should have alerted the property owner or tenant that a criminal action like an assault could occur.

Examples of Premises Liability Lawsuits Arising Out of Third-Party Assaults

The following are potential examples of assault cases in which the injured person may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit:

  • Assault occurred at a hotel after a third-party broke into a hotel room with a damaged lock, and the hotel had similar assault incidents in the past due to damaged or broken door locks on rooms;
  • Argument arose at a bar and lasted for many minutes, alerting the bar staff to a potential issue, before the assault occurred, yet the staff did not take any actions to prevent the assault; or
  • Mall in an area known for criminal activity failed to repair broken lights in a parking lot where an assault occurred.

Contact an Atlanta Premises Liability Lawyer Today

If you need help filing a premises liability lawsuit after an assault, one of our experienced Atlanta premises liability attorneys can assist you. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys today for more information.