Gunfire Death Prompts Premises Liability Lawsuit for Inadequate Security
A tragic shooting death in an apartment complex in the city of Athens, Georgia (near Atlanta) has prompted the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit based upon premises liability for inadequate security. The shooting and death took place in 2019, and the lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court for Athens-Clarke County on behalf of the family of Auriel Callaway, the victim in the shooting incident.
Gunfire in the Apartment Complex
The incident upon which this premises liability lawsuit is based occurred in July 2019 at the Clarke Gardens apartments. Ms. Callaway, who was a resident in the apartments, was walking with her three-year-old child when gunshots broke out in a different area of the apartments. Although she wasn’t a target or involved with the shooters, the young mother — only 24-years-old – was hit by gunfire while protecting her son and died. At least three suspects were arrested, including the woman believed to have fired the fatal shot.
What Does the Lawsuit Allege?
The complaint filed on behalf of Ms. Callaway’s family against the apartment-owning corporation listed several serious allegations against the owners and managers, including claims that before the shooting incident:
- The apartments were the site of other criminal violence prior to this event;
- The apartments had no significant security systems or protection;
- The apartments had failed to conduct inspections that could have revealed the dangerous situations;
- The apartments had failed to evict or eject dangerous residents and/or other individuals from the premises; and
- The apartments were aware and/or should have reasonably been aware of these dangerous conditions.
How Does This Tie into Premises Liability?
Premises liability laws vary from state to state, but they generally hold that the owners and operators of various buildings — especially public premises like apartments, retail stores, office buildings, and shopping malls — have an obligation to take steps to ensure that visitors and residents are safe while on their premises. In addition to making sure that the physical parts of the premises are safe by guarding against injuries from things like fires or trip-and-fall incidents, the owners and operators are also obliged to take adequate precautions for the security of people on the premises from being victims of crime. This is especially true when there has already been a history of violent criminal activity on or near the premises.
What Steps Should Landlords Consider for Security?
Some of the possible methods for improving site security are very obvious — many large apartment complexes, shopping malls, and school campuses will take steps like hiring security staff and installing camera systems to monitor the premises and either directly intervene or call police when criminal incidents are observed. Closed areas like shopping malls or government buildings may set up screening areas at entrances where visitors can be checked on or passed through metal detectors before entering the premises.
Residential premises like apartment complexes also have the ability (and duty) to evict dangerous residents or eject their dangerous visitors, especially when there has been past similar activity on the premises. Failing to do so puts innocent bystanders — like this young mother killed in Georgia — at significant risk. While a premises liability lawsuit may seek compensation for her surviving son and other family members, it sadly does nothing to bring back a lost life.
How can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
An experienced personal injury attorney can help people who have sustained injuries — or their surviving family members, such as in this tragic case — seek compensation from premises owners and operators who may be legally responsible for their injuries. Premises liability cases are unique, and they may differ significantly from one another based upon the circumstances. A premises liability lawsuit resulting from a trip-and-fall incident, for example, may involve site inspections by engineers, human factors experts, safety specialists, and other experts. A case related to inadequate security may also involve inspections of the physical premises, but is more likely to be dependent upon evidence of what actions the landlords did or didn’t take to improve site security and what actions would have been reasonable based upon the nature of their property, past history of criminal activity, etc. Any premises liability case must be approached with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to evaluate its unique circumstances and pursue a successful claim or lawsuit. An experienced personal injury attorney will have these resources.
View this video from Nightly Business Report about security in shopping malls, another frequent site of on-premises violence:
Sacramento Premises Liability Attorney
Hello, I’m Ed Smith, a premises liability attorney in Sacramento, California. If you or a family member have been injured in a violent incident where the owner or operator of the premises failed to provide sufficient security, it is critical that you seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney with the skills and resources needed to successfully assist you with a claim or lawsuit. Please give us a call at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 to receive free, friendly advice about your potential premises liability claim. You can also reach us through our online contact form.
Image attribution: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
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