Parents of a young college student have filed a lawsuit against a company that owns the apartment complex where their daughter lived. Their daughter was shot and killed in her apartment when a gunfight broke out in the unit above where she lived. One of the bullets came down through the ceiling, striking the 19-year-old girl on December 23, 2014.
Her parents believe the apartment owners should be held responsible for failing to protect tenants like their daughter from a foreseeable danger that existed. They argue that the apartment's negligence in security matters was a direct cause of their daughter's death, so the apartment facility should provide wrongful death compensation.
Cases against apartment owners, store owners and other owners of both residential and commercial properties arise frequently in situations like this one where injury or death occurs due to violence. Property owners can sometimes be held responsible for third-party violent crimes that occur on the premises if they are negligent in ensuring the security of the space. A Ft. Myers personal injury lawyer like Randall Spivey can help victims and their families determine if they have a premises liability civil claim based on negligent security after an injury or death occurs.
Holding an Apartment Accountable for Violence
Kentucky.com provided details on some of the allegations the parents of the deceased college student are making. The parents claim that there is a “heightened susceptibility to criminal activity taking place on the premises,” which is exacerbated by the fact the premises is poorly secured. There is no barrier fence preventing unauthorized access to the apartment units. There is also no access gate, no security checkpoint and no cameras to either deter criminal activity or record it when it takes place on the premises.
Whether an apartment is required to have these types of security measures in place or not is going to vary depending on the situation. Building owners cannot guarantee a 100 percent safe space where there is no threat of violence. However, there must be reasonable security measures in place and reasonable precautions taken to protect tenants and/or visitors.
A determination of whether the property owner was reasonable or negligent in security must be made based on the specific facts of the case, taking into account any past history of criminal behavior in the area.
The parents of the deceased also claim that the apartment owners were negligent in their rental practices because they did not conduct background checks on tenants. The parents believe the apartment owners have a duty not to rent to people who could create a risk of danger to other tenants as a result of criminal activity, and the apartment owners should evict tenants in light of evidence of violence or criminal acts.
In cases like this one, the plaintiffs will need to make a strong argument to demonstrate that the defendant's negligence in security created a foreseeable risk of harm. Making a premises liability claim based on negligent security can be complicated, so victims and their families should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible if they wish to hold a property owner accountable for any acts of violence. Contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. as soon as possible for assistance.