- August 23, 2022
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Negligent Security
Criminal violence is a massively complex issue with many interconnected factors. The behavior of landlords may not be the sole root of the problem, but it does play a much bigger part than many people realize.
Once it becomes common knowledge that violence often happens on a particular property, and the perpetrators get away with it, other potential perpetrators become emboldened to hurt people on that property. In fact, that’s often how crime hotspots form — one or two businesses prove themselves friendly or indifferent toward violence, and opportunistic criminal routines form around those businesses.
Conversely, when a property owner correctly applies security measures like cameras and gates, it really does make a difference in crime rates, not just on the individual property, but for the surrounding neighborhood.
Landlord negligence is also one of the rare aspects of the violence problem that survivors can take action against right now, without waiting for any big, systemic or policy changes. The law already requires landlords to protect people on their properties; landlords just need to be held to it in civil court.
Two Small Children Are the Latest Victims of Repeated Shootings in Fort Valley
On the evening of July 21st, someone fired multiple shots into a first-floor unit at the Lakeview Apartments in Fort Valley, hitting a 1- and 2-year-old pair of siblings, Marcus and Markailey Ball. The victims were taken to Atrium Health of Peach County, where the younger brother died upon arrival, and the older sister received treatment for a severe shoulder wound.
Police later charged a suspect with the shooting, but have not released any information on the suspected motive or relationship to the victims.
Regardless of those details, it’s clear enough that the Lakeview Apartments has a serious problem with gun violence. This was the third shooting in as many months that took place at this one complex. If management took any steps at all to improve security after the earlier shootings, they obviously weren’t enough to keep these two children safe.
Additionally, police do not believe this shooter was connected with the previous incidents, meaning that his arrest has not resolved the ongoing danger to the surviving residents.
Everyone needs and deserves a safe place to call home, and those who pay rent to a residential landlord are legally entitled to one. By all appearances, the tenants of the Lakeview Apartments haven’t just been terrorized and attacked — they’ve been cheated.
When Violence Forms a Pattern, Victims’ Power to Sue Increases
Too often, victims of violent crime assume that because they were in a “rough area” when the crime occurred, there’s nothing they can do about it. Landlords in these areas tend to encourage this idea, that crime is completely out of their hands, and residents and guests accept all the risks just by existing there.
This is absolutely not true. Not practically, and not legally. As noted above, landlords hold enormous power over crime and security. They also have a duty to do what they can to keep their properties free of foreseeable dangers, including criminal violence.
The operative word is foreseeable. So, essentially, when a person is attacked on a landlord’s property, the landlord’s main legal defense will be, “How could I have expected that to happen?”
The more often similar attacks happen on the property, the more ridiculous and useless that defense becomes.
Thankfully, the Ball family seems to be getting support in their pursuit of justice. They’re already in the process of suing the Lakeview Apartments for the death of their son, and the injuries that may leave their daughter with only one useable arm.
Lots other families affected by gun violence in Georgia are not so aware of their rights, however. If your family has been victimized while living in a complex with a history of crime, reach out to The Stoddard Firm to learn about your options.