Whether you need a last-minute birthday gift or just enjoy browsing through stores, some shoppers might be thinking twice about venturing out due to safety concerns. Shootings at malls and shopping centers around Georgia seem to be occurring with more frequency. It could be the stress that comes with the COVID pandemic or it might just be due to a general increase in crime.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the gun-related injuries that have occurred at shopping centers in Georgia over the last year:
- Mid-November brought a sixth shooting on the same property when a man was shot and injured at Lenox Square in Atlanta during an argument with a group of men inside the Apple store.
- In early October, an altercation led to a shooting at Augusta Mall left one man dead and one woman injured.
- In July, an argument in a shoe store led to shots being fired inside Oglethorpe Mall in Savannah.
- In early March, Buckhead’s Lenox Square was the scene of a shooting that ended a man’s life over a parking space dispute.
- Last December, a fight in a food court took place at Atlanta’s Cumberland Mall, leaving one man shot. Numerous shoppers, including several expectant mothers, experienced panic attacks from the incident that ended with shoppers stampeding out of the mall.
Under the theory of negligent security, a victim can hold the property owner responsible for his or her injuries as a result of criminal activity brought about by a third party. You can pursue a legal claim for an injury you sustain as the victim of a crime at a shopping complex or store. In the case of mall shootings, this means holding the mall owner responsible if you’re shot by a stray bullet from a fight in the parking lot or while fleeing a store after a robbery.
Liability laws in Georgia can complicate settlements
Property managers and management companies must be aware of previous dangerous activity on their premises to implement safety measures to guard against similar events in the future.
Georgia Code § 51-3-1 focuses upon the duty of the owner or occupier of land to invitee. An invitee is welcome on the property for the purpose of the business owner. In the case of a mall, store, or shopping complex, you have an open invitation to be on the premises to shop because you might spend money, which benefits the business owner. If you get hurt while on the premises, the property owner may be responsible for injuries that occur are at the hands of someone else who is on the property intending to do harm. The owners of shopping malls and retail centers have a responsibility to exercise ordinary care to keep you and other customers safe.
Under Georgia Code § 51-12-33, if the individual or individuals involved in pulling the trigger can be identified by the property owner, the liability might be apportioned so that the perpetrator would be financially responsible for a percentage as well.
It’s rare that a property owner will just accept liability for injuries or wrongful death inflicted by a third-party on their property. That means taking a case to trial where apportionment of fault might be applied.
In this type of premises liability case, it’s important to demonstrate there are:
- Witnesses or electronic evidence showing the crime that occurred.
- Expert witnesses as to vulnerabilities of the property that should have allowed the management company to foresee the need to improve security.
- Documentation by law enforcement of similar incidents on or near the same property.
- Store owners or managers who have made previous reports or complaints to management about criminal activity on the property.
- Corporate meeting minutes or other documentation discussing the need for security measures, what those measures are, and how or when they were implemented.
When the average person won’t have the ability to pay his or her share of damages for gunshot injuries in a mall shooting, it becomes even more important to have an attorney working hard to demonstrate why the property owner should be held primarily or solely responsible.
You can feel secure in choosing the experienced premises liability attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP to stand up for your right to recover. Schedule your free case evaluation today by calling our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.
Steve Lowry is an award-winning litigator who has secured record-setting jury verdicts on behalf of his clients. A passionate advocate for individuals who have been harmed by the actions of others, Steve has won numerous top 10 verdicts in Georgia.
Read more about Stephen G. Lowry here.