In 2011, U.S. residents age 12 or older experienced an estimated 5.8 million violent victimizations, according to a report released by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. These estimates are based on data from the annual National Crime Victimization Survey, which has collected information from victims of crime since 1973. Between 2010 and 2011, the rate of violent victimization increased 17 percent, from 19.3 to 22.5 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. The increase in total violence was due to a 22 percent increase in the number of aggravated and simple assaults.
Many of these crimes are the result of inadequate security provided by a landlord or provided by a commercial establishment like a hotel. In these situations, the crime should never have happened and, in Georgia, a victim is entitled to make a claim for injuries.
To establish liability in Georgia for inadequate security, an injured party must show that the defendant has breached a duty “to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”
With regard to third-party criminal attacks, such duty extends only to foreseeable criminal acts. In Sturbridge Partners v. Walker, 267 Ga. 785 (1997), the Supreme Court of Georgia “laid to rest the artificial notion that a crime against a person could never be foreseen by previous crimes against property” and, instead, endorsed more flexible guidelines for determining foreseeability.
To determine whether previous criminal acts are substantially similar to the occurrence causing harm, thereby establishing the foreseeability of risk, the court must inquire into the location, nature, and extent of the prior criminal activities and their likeness, proximity or other relationship to the crime in question. While the prior criminal activity must be substantially similar to the particular crime in question, that does not mean identical. What is required is that the prior incident be sufficient to attract the [defendant’s] attention to the dangerous condition which resulted in the litigated incident. Further, the question of reasonable foreseeability of a criminal attack is generally for a jury’s determination.
For example, does knowledge of two previous burglaries by a landlord create the foreseeability of a rape and aggravated sodomy that occurred in one of its apartments? Sturbridge concluded that the previous burglaries did create foreseeability because, although the burglaries “were committed when the apartments were vacant, it was reasonable to anticipate that an unauthorized entry might occur while an apartment was occupied and personal harm to a tenant could result.”
In rape and assault cases in Atlanta and all of Georgia, it is critical to obtain records from all prior crimes that occurred at the location where the crime took place. At Gomez & Golomb LLC, we have been handling these types of cases for almost 20 years. Please call us for a free consultation if you have been the victim of a rape or an assault.
If you are the victim of a crime, here are some links to organizations that will help you free of cost. This is not something you want to go through alone – so please call !!!