- July 15, 2022
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Negligent Security
Property management companies would like tenants to believe that they are renting at their own risk. While most tenants know they have some right to safety, when it comes to things like leaking gas lines and toxic mold, many believe the “at your own risk” myth when it comes to violent crime.
It’s true that there are limits on what a landlord can and should do to protect tenants from gun violence. For example, residential landlords do not have the authority to interfere with legal gun ownership. They’re also not responsible for random, unpredictable criminal acts.
Even so, apartment complex management companies do have a legal responsibility to take any and all reasonable steps to address predictable dangers to their tenants, including the danger of violence. When shootings happen on rental property, it’s always worth asking whether the company really did all it could or did their actions lead to negligent security.
A Toddler in Rockdale County Is Recovering from a Gunshot to the Head
The exact circumstances are still under investigation, but last April, a shooting at the Ashford Brook Apartment Homes, just outside of Conyers, ended with a 2-year-old boy taking a bullet to the head.
Police believe the shooting arose from a confrontation between a tenant and a maintenance employee at the apartment complex. The two men were arguing outside the building in the late afternoon, just before the bullet apparently penetrated a wall or window and struck the child inside his home.
The boy was taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in serious condition. It’s not yet known how the damage may affect his neurological development. No arrest has been made, though police report they have questioned a person of interest. Whether that means the tenant or the maintenance employee is unclear.
While it’s impossible to be certain without further details, there are many ways the apartment complex’s management company may have neglected its duty to protect the victim, his family, and the other tenants.
Families Affected by Apartment Gun Violence Can Often Sue for Compensation
Survivors of shootings often feel a great deal of justified anger, and it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of where it’s directed, or where it’s most useful. Landlords may not be the most obvious contributors to gun violence, but they do play an important role, and individual survivors have the power to hold them accountable for it.
In the Ashford Brook Apartments case, and in others like it, here are just a few possible scenarios that would point to negligence on management’s part:
- If the shooter had threatened violent behavior in the past, and management ignored it.
- If the shooter previously handled a weapon in a reckless manner in the complex’s common areas, and management ignored it.
- If there have been other shootings in the area, especially at the complex or neighboring complexes, and management did not make appropriate security upgrades, such as employing a guard.
- If the maintenance employee was the shooter. In this case, it may not even matter whether the company had any way of predicting the crime. Because companies profit from their employees’ on-the-clock actions when things go right, they are also financially responsible for those actions when things go wrong.
Regardless of the legal responsibility involved, nothing can fully undo the harm that’s been done to a shooting victim. However, there’s a big difference between a fully funded recovery process, and one made harder by a lack of resources. Insisting that negligent property management companies pay for the harm they enable also helps motivate them to protect tenants better in the future.
If you are the guardian of the child shot at the Ashford Brook Apartment Homes, or if your family has also been affected by gun violence in Georgia apartment complexes, reach out to The Stoddard Firm to learn how we can help.