Safety Is a Right

Everyone deserves a place to call home where they can feel safe. Unfortunately, corporate greed forces many lower-income Americans to live in fear of violence, believing security to be an out-of-reach extravagance only for the rich. Meanwhile, middle- and higher-income families are often defrauded with an illusion of safety — one that is soon shattered when promised security features are not delivered and violent crime spills into their safe-looking communities and buildings.

Regardless of the price range of an apartment or condominium complex, entry and exit gates are almost always a good way of minimizing unnecessary traffic, deterring opportunistic thieves, and making criminal behaviors more difficult to execute quickly and covertly, thereby increasing the overall safety of a community’s residents.

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Landlords are responsible for keeping their tenants safe from known threats.

When criminal activity is an issue in a specific property, installing a gate is a sensible precaution.

Additionally, landlords also have a responsibility to be honest with tenants regarding any dangers, and to honor the terms of their leases, which sometimes include maintenance of gates and other security systems as part of a complex’s amenities.

The lawyers at The Stoddard Firm are passionate about enforcing and raising awareness of landlord responsibility. We specialize in assisting victims of violent crimes who’ve been subjected to unsafe living conditions, such as broken or missing security gates, by property owners who have been negligent in affecting and maintaining proper security measures.

How Our Negligent Security Lawyer Can Help You

We Take the Lead on Your Lawsuit

As a victim of a crime that occurred as the result of a negligent security issue, like a problem with the entry or exit gates where you live, you have a lot to manage. In addition to possible physical injury (and maybe even the loss of life) you have likely been impacted emotionally.

When you rent a property, you expect it to be safe. And the breach of security is both frightening and frustrating. Knowing what to do next, and how to appropriately address the issues you have faced, can be overwhelming. Yet doing nothing is not an option. You deserve to be compensated for your losses.

At The Stoddard Firm, we are familiar with cases like yours – and we can help you manage the legal process necessary to be awarded compensation. To do this, you would need to file a premises liability or wrongful death lawsuit due to negligent security.

Perhaps the greatest value we bring to you is the fact that we will manage the entirety of the legal process, from investigating what happened and calculating damages to filing your suit, negotiating, litigating, and handling any appeals, if necessary. We do not simply give you advice and move on – we are hands-on the whole time. Because we take on this responsibility you do not have to. Quite simply, you can focus your energy and attention where it is most needed, on your recovery.

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Our team is ready to go to work for you right away – we know that time is a commodity best not wasted. Reach out to us today at 470-467-2200 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you move forward.

Why We Are the Best Firm to Serve You

We Check All the Boxes

If you have been a victim of a crime as the result of lack of or issues with entry and exit gates, engaging a negligent security attorney should be your first course of action (of course, after you take care of your health). You want to work with professionals who not only understand how to manage a case that focuses on issues with security entry and exit gates but also have developed a proven approach to meet the needs of their clients. At The Stoddard Firm, we have the:

  • breadth of experience
  • client-focused approach and
  • reputation.

necessary to lead your case effectively. We believe that the laws that hold landlords responsible for providing appropriate security are important and need to be upheld. When this does not happen, victims should be compensated.

First, experience matters. You want professionals who have managed cases similar to yours to work for you. They can leverage their past experience to bring value. At The Stoddard Firm, Matt Stoddard, our founder, has significant experience handling cases like this.

While experience is important, it alone should not be the deciding factor in selecting legal representation. How the firm approaches services and communicates with its clients is equally valuable.

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Our team is committed to providing each client with the hands-on, personal attention they deserve.

As a victim, you have been through a great deal. We pride ourselves on making the legal process as easy as possible for you by managing all communication, paying attention to intricate details, and being available to answer your questions and address your concerns as they arise.

Finally, our negligent security attorneys are well-known throughout the community. We have a reputation for providing the highest quality of service and helping our clients maximize their settlements. When we represent you, your goals become ours and we dedicate ourselves to achieving the best possible outcome.

We encourage you to contact the firm at 470-467-2200 and schedule an initial consultation. During this meeting, we can learn more about your situation and share how we can best address your needs.

About Security Entrance and Exit Gates

Gates Are Only Useful When Properly Maintained

When it comes to renting or buying a home, security is often a major consideration. Property management companies, realtors, and HOAs know this, and many are extremely quick to sell prospective residents on the peacefulness of a community, or the safety offered by tall gates and fences. However, once residents move in, they are often dismayed to discover that the neighborhood that looked so peaceful in the daylight has a dark side that their complex is not equipped to handle, or that the solid-looking security gate they were shown is out of order more often than not.

This is part of what happened to one 23-year-old woman who had just moved into her first apartment in Dallas. Within days of her arrival in April 2019, the complex’s security gate was left open pending repairs, allowing access to an assailant who raped and fatally strangled her in her new home. Her family’s lawsuit also alleged that there were non-functioning security cameras and lights in the complex.

A crime of this sort should not have come as a surprise to building management, given that it was only the latest in a series of issues. The 16-year-old suspect charged with the rape and murder lived only a fifteen-minute walk away from the victim’s apartment and was also charged with raping three other women in their Dallas homes, as well as two more women in Louisiana.

Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama have been reporting a similar bait-and-switch security problem at an apartment complex specifically marketed as off-campus housing. In August 2019, one of their classmates was killed in his sleep by a stray bullet that pierced his bedroom wall. The shot appeared to have been fired during a robbery in front of the building. The surviving residents shared, among other health and safety concerns, that the gate was never closed, and the onsite security didn’t do them any good, because the crimes occurred after security had left for the day.

Poor Property Management Affects Everyone’s Safety

A single landlord’s indifference to security can endanger not only a property’s residents but its neighbors as well. While people often attribute repeated patterns of crime to a “dangerous area” that no one can control, studies show that dangerous areas are more often made up of dangerous individual properties, where management is either indifferent to crime or actively profiting from it.

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Rehabilitating a specific property using gates, cameras, lights, and a general willingness to respond to crime can often keep people safer in the surrounding area, as well as on the property itself.

Sadly, the reverse is also true. One or more crime havens in a community can put everyone at risk.

One would-be daycare manager in Indianapolis also struggled with this frustrating phenomenon. In preparation for the grand opening of an affordable daycare center that she hoped would bring stability and community pride to a neighborhood lacking in reliable childcare, she did the responsible thing and invested in creating a secure space, complete with gate, fencing, and security cameras. Unfortunately, criminal activity from a next-door apartment complex made it difficult for her to make her dream a reality, she said.

Since the fence’s installation, which she said cost her $1,700, the gate intended to separate her property from the complex’s dark alleyway was broken down, drug paraphernalia had been left scattered on the ground, and her security cameras had caught people crossing the broken gate to steal things, including other sections of fence. When contacted by the press after the incident, the apartment complex’s management company said they were in the process of taking bids to fix the fence, but the aspiring daycare manager said they had not responded to her about taking responsibility; she assumed that she would have to shoulder the expense herself before she could open for business.

Daunting as it may be, this small business owner had the same responsibility to make her property safe that a corporate landlord would, regardless of her neighbor’s actions. However, the policies of the apartment complex management company, which seem to have allowed crime to proliferate out of control, are worthy of serious scrutiny. The property did not seem to be equipped with adequate lighting or recording equipment in potentially crime-friendly areas of its layout, and it is unlikely that the tenants had received background checks. If anyone within the apartment complex itself falls victim to a violent crime, management might well be liable.

Georgia Residents Have Good Reason to Worry about Safety

Issues Are Commonplace

Home invasion is a genuine problem throughout Georgia, with one burglary every 27 minutes and six seconds. It is important to note that the term “burglary” applies not only to break-ins that result in theft, but also to trespassing with the intent to commit a felony, such as rape or murder. These numbers include burglaries on commercial property, but the majority of the problem is felt at home.

Security gates can provide an excellent first line of defense against burglary, but just like that unfortunate woman in Dallas and those students in Alabama, vulnerable Georgia residents often find themselves paying rent for apartments and condominiums advertised as “gated,” only to be left unprotected and ultimately victimized.

In October of 2018, a four- and five-year-old pair of sisters were molested in their Atlanta apartment by a man who apparently climbed through their bedroom window while they were asleep. According to neighbors of the family, the complex’s gate had been left out of order for months, allowing uncontrolled access to the grounds.

A month later, a woman living in another complex with a broken gate in Brookhaven was accosted by an armed man outside her apartment. When she tried to fight back, he shot her in the leg and stole her purse. She survived and sued the complex, where other residents have said the gate breaking or being left open is a regular occurrence.

Assessing the Safety of a New Apartment Is About More than First Impressions

If you are trying to determine whether a potential new apartment or condominium complex is safe, it is important not to be taken in by sales language and empty promises. You need to take control. So, before signing a lease, it is a good idea to:

  • Visit the complex multiple times a day, checking whether the gate is engaged.
  • Examine the property from all sides, making sure there are no less obvious means of access.
  • Talk to your prospective neighbors about how safe they feel at home.
  • Ask what, if any, security services will be promised in your lease.
  • Check the crime maps provided on local police department websites.

Remember though, however much, or little homework you may have done before moving into a new building, it does not change anything about your landlord’s legal duty to protect you. If you are injured because of negligent security, a premises liability attorney can help you seek compensation for your losses.

Security Gates Are One of the Most Efficient Ways of Improving Security

The exact statistical effect of security gates is not known, however, there have been studies on site-specific crime reduction, conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, which point to gates as a key method of improving safety. Based on the results of these small-scale experiments, entry gates, and other site-appropriate physical security upgrades have a universally positive effect on resident safety and quality of life, sometimes a dramatic one.

In one of the observed cases, after gates and fencing were added to a severely deteriorated property, police reported receiving fewer calls for help in the area, to the point where they were able to reduce patrols without a resurgence in crime.

While the mere presence of a security gate is often not enough to guarantee resident safety, regular gate maintenance is a cornerstone of a strong overall security strategy. Working gates are an absolute must in high-crime areas, along with cameras, good lighting, and security personnel. In areas with only moderate crime, where security guard service may be overkill, a gate is a simple, low-cost alternative method of making a property uninviting to criminals.

Landlords who spend their security budget unwisely may be putting their tenants at just as great a risk as those who refuse to invest in security at all. Case in point, when a gun safety advocate was murdered in his Savannah apartment complex in 2018, the security guard on duty admitted to hearing the shots and doing nothing, because he heard shots all the time. The complex had no entry gate to protect residents, even though installing and maintaining one would have cost far less than the wasted pay of this security guard, who apparently considered the ungated property too out of control to be guarded.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Negligent Security Lawyers Address Your Most Pressing Issues

It is no surprise that even the idea of filing a negligent security premises liability lawsuit results in a lot of questions. After all, you are entering unfamiliar territory, and the laws and processes are both complex and confusing.  Below we have shared some of our clients’ most commonly asked questions, along with our responses to them.

Is there a time limit to file a lawsuit regarding negligent security in Georgia?

The State’s statute of limitations provides you two years from the date of your injury to file suit. Contacting a negligent security lawyer as soon as possible is wise to leverage the allowable time to file.

What type of damages can I receive if my landlord is found guilty of negligent security?

While the specific damages that may be awarded to you depend upon your situation, economic, non-economic, and possibly punitive damages may be available to you. Your negligent security lawyer can review your case and provide you with more details regarding your particular incident.

Can I sue my landlord if I was injured due to issues with my gate?

Yes, you can. Your attorney would need to prove that your landlord’s negligence regarding the gate contributed to your injuries. In Georgia, landlords are responsible for keeping their tenants safe.

What are your attorney’s fees for handling my entry and exit gate case?

At The Stoddard Firm, we handle all premises liability cases, under which entry and exit gate issues fall, on a contingency basis. This means there is no upfront payment from you. Our compensation is a percentage of the settlement awarded. We can discuss this further with you when we meet with you.

Hopefully, the information above helps provide some clarity as you determine your next steps. For further information on how we can best assist you, reach out to our team at 470-467-2200. Once we know exactly what happened to you, we can provide more detailed answers to your questions.

The Stoddard Firm Holds Landlords Responsible for Leaving Tenants Unprotected

We Know the Law

A safe home is not just a moral right. Landlords are legally required to take reasonable steps to protect their tenants from all foreseeable dangers, including violent crime. Adequate security can be a vague concept, and it varies depending on local crime levels, but for any property with a history of violent crime on or near the premises, installing and maintaining a security gate is a thoroughly reasonable measure for a landlord to take.

When a crime occurs, many negligent landlords will try to deflect attention away from themselves by blaming the victim, or by exploiting people’s fear of the criminal, claiming they were helpless against the actions of an outsider.

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The Stoddard Firm has experts who can cut through this kind of misdirection and faulty logic.

We’ve participated in many successful wrongful death and personal injury suits against negligent property owners, including the case of Creekside Forest Apartment Homes, in which an absentee owner had left tenants exposed behind a broken gate and corrupt security force, leading to the death of a 15-year-old boy.

Contact Us Today

If you’ve been injured or lost a family member to violent crime in your apartment or condo complex, The Stoddard Firm’s negligent security lawyers can help. We can explain in court the duty a landlord has to provide adequate security — no matter the income level of a property’s tenants — gather and present evidence of how the landlord should have known about the danger and clarify exactly what should have been done to prevent the crime.

To get started with a free consultation today, give us a call at 470-467-2200 or reach out through our online chat function. We are ready to get to work on your case immediately.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Matt StoddardMatt 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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    What is Negligent Security?

    Negligent security is a part of the law that falls under the category of premises liability. Premises liability covers harm that a person could experience on a business’s property as a result of negligence on the part of the business. This could include things like slip-and-fall injuries where there is no “wet floor” sign, injuries or deaths incurred by poorly maintained elevators or escalators...