Your home is supposed to be the safest place, whether you live in a detached house or a multifamily residence. That feeling of security is a basic need, a crucial building block of your well-being. Still, the frequency of burglaries and violent crime in residential areas make that feeling elusive for many.
Contrary to popular belief, the term “burglary” is not limited to theft, but actually covers all break-ins where the intruder intends to commit any felony or theft inside. A person who illegally enters a building to commit a sexual assault, for example, is guilty of burglary and sexual assault, even if no possessions are stolen. This is true even if the gate or door is unlocked and no actual breaking is necessary for entry. According to the FBI, 71.9% of burglaries occur in residential buildings.
This makes burglary rates a pretty good gauge of an area’s general state of home security. According to The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the statewide burglary rate was 1 every 27 minutes and 6 seconds.
If you own property, you get to make many choices about how to safeguard your home and family against becoming another data point in these frightening statistics. There will still be variables outside your control, such as HOA regulations or police response time in your area, but you can install whatever locks, alarm systems, security cameras, or window reinforcements you consider necessary.
If you’re renting, on the other hand, you may find yourself at the mercy of an indifferent landlord who looks upon the property as a personal money machine rather than a home to its tenants. In these kinds of situations, inadequate security is sadly the norm rather than the exception.
You may be eligible for compensation if you have been a victim of a crime due to negligent security in your apartment complex.
The negligent security lawyer at The Stoddard Firm can help determine whether you have a case. Contact us today at 470-467-2200 to schedule your free consultation.
Why Engage the Stoddard Firm
Our Experience and Approach Set Us Apart
If a burglary has victimized you in your home, it probably seems as if your world has been turned upside down. After all, where you live should be where you feel the safest. Of course, burglary can happen anywhere, but when it occurs as a result of the negligent security provided by your landlord, you may have legal recourse. Selecting the firm to file your negligent security lawsuit is an important decision. You want to work with professionals who know the law and have successfully handled cases similar to yours. And, you want them to understand just how violated you feel.
The Stoddard Firm checks all the boxes. Our experience is considerable, our successes significant and our approach to service caring and kind. We are proud of the reputation we have earned and are eager to put the following to work on your behalf.
Our Premises Liability Experience: Our premises liability practice is led by our firm’s founder, Matt Stoddard. For years, individuals in Atlanta and the surrounding areas have reached out to us when their lives have been impacted by negligent security. Our practice is strong, and our attorneys are well-versed in premises liability law. They know what to do to help maximize the settlement to which you are entitled.
An Empathetic Approach to Service: Security in Atlanta residences is of primary concern to us. This is where we live and raise our families; thus we know the importance of feeling safe. Additionally, we appreciate the impact of burglary on our clients. In addition to the financial effect it has on their lives, their emotional well-being is impacted.
Understanding this, we approach these cases with extra care, providing calm and empathic communication as we strive to learn all of the details of their trying experience. We actively listen, ask important questions and always make ourselves available to address client concerns. Our clients have repeatedly shared their experiences with us and we are grateful for their kind words.
Our History of Success: Our proven record of success is perhaps the greatest indicator of our ability to help you. We are proud of the results we have achieved; they are the direct result of both knowledge and hard work. At The Stoddard Firm, our team understands that these settlements can determine how our clients move forward with their lives. While we cannot erase the past and the tragedy you have suffered, we can work hard to help you as you look toward the future.
We are committed to providing the highest quality legal services to those whose lives have been upended by negligent security issues. Premises liability, under which these cases fall, is an area of focus for our firm.
Contact us today at 470-467-2200 to schedule a no-cost consultation and learn how we can help you.
How We Can Help With Your Apartment Negligent Security Lawsuit
We Manage Everything So You Don’t Have To
A burglary can upend your life; and when one of the contributing factors is negligent security it becomes even more frustrating. Clearly, if the appropriate steps were taken, your home may have remained the safe and secure spot you believed it to be.
When negligent security directly impacts your life, you may wonder how to proceed. This is where we can help. We can file a negligent security lawsuit, while you work on recovering from the shock of the experience and your losses.
The breadth of service our firm can provide is considerable. Basically, we will manage the entire legal process on your behalf. Allow us to focus on helping you while you focus on beginning to move forward. You can count on us to:
Investigate your claim
Complete all necessary paperwork and file all forms in a timely fashion
Calculate your damages (economic, non-economic and punitive, if applicable)
Assume responsibility for all communications
Negotiate on your behalf
Represent you in court, if necessary.
Basically, we handle everything related to the legal process. When you engage our negligent security lawyer, you can rest assured that you will be well-represented and your case will be well-managed.
Negligent Security Is an Issue in Georgia
The State Is Home to the Unofficial “Worst Neighborhood in America”
Negligent security apartment complexes in Atlanta can involve problems as simple as broken lights or locks that management doesn’t replace in a timely manner, but some landlords allow properties to deteriorate far beyond a few quick fixes.
Brannon Hill in DeKalb County is such a property, dubbed “Worst Neighborhood in America” in one documentary. According to a 2016 investigation by an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, more than a hundred residents of the complex were living in conditions that included piles of trash, partially burnt down units, and missing doors. Some were squatters, but many paid rent to absentee landlords who took no interest in the property beyond collecting the money and were conveniently difficult to find when it came to citations and fines. That rent was described in an earlier investigation as only “relatively” cheap. Meanwhile, murders and other violent crimes on the property were so notoriously common as to be almost beyond counting.
The county eventually went so far as to demolish most uninhabited units in 2017. However, the management of the units undamaged by fire has not changed, and yet another fatal stabbing occurred in the complex in November of 2018.
Brannon Hill may be an extreme scenario, but it’s emblematic of the kind of negligent security conditions and outright neglect that renters face in complexes throughout Georgia. In August of 2018, also in DeKalb County, two children were shot in their apartments on the same night, within two miles of each other, in two completely unrelated incidents.
In 2017, two residents got into a shootout between their two apartments at the Decatur Garden Complex, involving two high-powered rifles, a shotgun, and multiple handguns. One was killed, and the was other shot in the foot. By an extraordinary stroke of luck, no one was caught in the crossfire that time, but one 14-year-old girl in Atlanta wasn’t so fortunate. The week of Thanksgiving in 2018, she was struck in the head and killed by a bullet fired from the apartment above her. She was eight months pregnant.
Sometimes danger comes from other residents, when landlords don’t notice or pay enough attention to the warning signs.
At other times, the threat comes from the outside, as in the case of the DeKalb County woman who was raped at gunpoint in the supposedly secure parking garage of her apartment complex. The intruder had apparently slid under the security gate.
Similarly, one Norcross man was attacked in his apartment and robbed by two masked men. The robbers simply knocked on the door, and the victim opened it, expecting the taxi service he had called for. Reports do not mention whether the victim’s door was properly equipped with a peephole designed to prevent such intrusions.
Perhaps most disturbingly, threats to tenant safety can even come from those who are supposed to protect them. In 2012, another 14-year-old girl was raped by a security guard at her Clayton County apartment complex. Her attacker had a known history of inappropriate behavior toward tenants and guests and had not been removed from his position of authority in the complex. In addition to his conviction, the survivor was awarded a $1 billion dollar settlement against the negligent security company.
Safe, Affordable Housing Is Not Too Much to Ask For
High crime rates in low-cost apartment complexes are so commonplace that many people have come to consider them inseparable. There’s a bias that remotely affordable rent is itself a draw for crime, and that potentially becoming a victim of crime is an inherent risk that tenants accept when moving into an affordable apartment. People living both in and out of high-crime complexes assume that anyone can only escape those risks by making enough money to live somewhere else.
Landlords encourage this victim-blaming assumption, because it excuses them from the responsibility of providing the safe living conditions that all tenants should be able to expect, regardless of their monthly bill. In an all-too-common story, a student living in Fulton County found himself on the receiving end of two attempted burglaries in one week. Management at his apartment complex, what was then lauded as “the only affordable apartment complex in Buckhead,” not only refused to address the inadequate security, but evicted the man for attempting to alert his neighbors to the threat, claiming that marring the complex’s reputation was a violation of his lease.
Less than a year later, the complex was sold and all tenants evicted, to make way for renovations that will probably make the building safer, but definitely rid it of its “affordable” title, reinforcing again the idea that only the rich can be or deserve to be protected.
In response to the classist (and frequently racist) claim that low-income renters are the source of crime rather than its victims, criminologist John Eck notes that extremely high crime rates often cluster around a single property.
The determining factor in which properties will have these sky-high crime rates is not the neighborhood, or the rent, but the management.
“There are some property owners who for one reason or another seem to have business models that generate crime or allow crime to happen,” he was quoted as saying in an AJC article about the inadequate security at Brookfield Apartments in Fulton County.
After three court orders to institute basic security measures, the owner of Brookfield Apartments was eventually jailed for failing to comply, but this kind of bitter struggle to wring the smallest of fixes out of crime-harboring landlords is far from uncommon.
You Deserve to Be Safe from Negligent Security at Apartments
Steps You Can Take
Many home invasions are motivated by theft, but can easily escalate to violence. To protect your personal safety, it’s best to avoid confronting thieves, and even better to appear unappealing to them in the first place. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office offers a lengthy set of recommendations on how to protect your home from burglars. Many of these suggestions are only practical for homeowners, but it’s a good idea to apply what methods you can to your apartment, including:
Keeping blinds closed and valuables out of sight from the outside
Locking all doors and windows before going out or going to bed
Never advertising when you will be away from home, such as by posting plans on social media, leaving messages on your door, or allowing mail to pile up
Retreating and calling 911 if you ever come home to find your door or window broken.
Clearly, negligent security at apartments is a major issue. That said, certain security measures fall upon your landlord to install and maintain, and you can get in trouble for making unauthorized changes on your own, especially in common areas. If you’re concerned about inadequate security in your complex in general, you can make sure your landlord knows about the issues, and knows that you can prove that he or she knew about them if an incident occurs.
Much as they might like you to believe otherwise, landlords are responsible for protecting tenants from foreseeable dangers. Documenting that a problem exists before a criminal can take advantage of it can make all the difference in forcing a landlord to care about negligent security.
If your landlord is slow or unresponsive about fixing locks, lights, or gates, be sure to make your request in writing, and take pictures of the inadequate security conditions for your records. Also report in writing any illegal or threatening behavior by your neighbors, so your landlord cannot deny being aware of any potential dangers.
If one of your neighbors has already been victimized on the property, take note of how the perpetrator gained access. Your landlord can be held liable for failing to prevent the same kind of breach from happening again. It can also be helpful to pool your efforts with other residents who share your concerns. Landlords are more likely to listen and less likely to illegally retaliate against a specific tenant if the complaints are coming from a group.
Even if the threat of violence comes from within your home, your landlord has certain responsibilities to protect you. Georgia law allows victims of domestic violence to break leases, without penalties, in order to escape that violence. Your landlord cannot use your lease to force you to stay in an abusive situation, and any landlord who tries is liable for willfully putting your safety at risk.
What to Do After a Crime Has Occurred
If you or a loved one has already become the victim of a crime because of inadequate or negligent security at your apartment complex, first take care of your physical safety and health. Whether you called 911 during the incident or not, seek medical attention for any injuries and file a police report as soon as you can. Once you feel safe doing so, also document as much as you can of what happened, including what damage was done, what (if anything) was stolen, and what conditions allowed the crime to occur.
Your next step should be getting in touch with a qualified legal expert, like those at The Stoddard Firm.
Working with seasoned premises liability attorneys is the best way to hold those who contributed to your burglary responsible.
Maximizing Your Settlement Is Our Goal
We Prove Negligent Security
Key to holding your landlord responsible for the burglary of your home is proving their negligence. In Georgia, landlords do have some responsibility regarding preventing crime, including making sure there is proper lighting in certain common areas and providing working locks for all windows and doors. When something breaks, or a light goes out, they must repair or replace. Also, it is the landlords’ responsibility to know to whom they are renting and to communicate any possible dangers to their tenants.
When landlords fail to do these things and crime occurs, they may be deemed negligent and held responsible for compensating those who have been harmed. Our negligent security lawyer knows how to prove negligence and can help with your negligent security lawsuit.
Contact The Stoddard Firm Today
When filing a premises liability lawsuit for negligent security, timing is critical. In addition to adhering to the statute of limitations, access to evidence and witnesses is more available in the time immediately following an incident. Thus, we encourage all potential clients to contact us quickly. Reach out today for help regarding your apartment negligent security lawsuit. We can be reached at 470-467-2200 and are available, immediately, to begin work on your behalf.
Attorney Matt Stoddard
Matt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]
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The amount of security a landlord must provide depends on the likelihood of violence on or around the property. If violent crime is unheard of in a certain area, landlords don’t need to protect against it. When violent crime is a known threat, on the other hand, landlords are legally obligated to provide tenants with appropriate protection.
Unfortunately, landlords often refuse to accept thi...