Analysis of Potential Premises Liability under Georgia Law
Crime victim abducted at Gwinnett hotel
This blog post by Georgia personal injury and wrongful death trial lawyer Richard Armond of the The Armond Firm, LLC, focuses on premises liability lawsuits by crime victims against hotels. Today in Gwinnett County an apparent crime victim was allegedly kidnapped at a hotel. Richard Armond has a unique skill set at handling these types of cases based on his many years of experience as a senior assistant district attorney for Gwinnett County. While this post discusses premises liability and negligent security issues, please keep in mind that the news story linked in this story is being used merely as an example for some of the issues involved in these cases. Nothing in this blog post is intended to represent in any way that the hotel in this case was negligent or liable in any way. Cases such as these require a full investigation before a lawsuit can be brought.
According to the Gwinnett Daily Post, a woman was abducted at gunpoint from a Gwinnett County hotel today in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. According to the report the Gwinnett County Police Department believes this case is a legitimate kidnapping case. Two victims, a man and a woman, were in a room at the hotel when a gunman came to the door, robbed the man, abducted the woman, and fled in the male victim's car.
Georgia's Premises Liability Statute for Hotel Customers
The applicable Georgia statute for hotel and motel customers, tenants, and guests is O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1 which states:
Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.
At issue in any Georgia premises liability case where the victim of a sexual assault, physical assault, battery, or other forcible crime involving physical or emotional injuries will be the hotel's level of care in keeping the hotel grounds safe.
What factors affect whether ordinary care has been met?
A Georgia personal injury attorney will be particularly interested in whether a hotel has a history of similar incidents on its property when a crime like this Gwinnett County hotel abduction occurs. To investigate an attorney will likely need to to file an open records act request with the local police jurisdiction to see what crimes have occurred at the hotel in recent years. Later, in the discovery process, the attorney will demand all incident reports maintained by the hotel, as well as serve interrogatories and/or depose hotel employees about crime on the property. Further, a private investigator may be utilized to interview persons who may have information about the property. Additionally, an expert witness in the hotel industry may be needed to demonstrate ordinary care.
Won't the defense just argue that the crime perpetrator is responsible?
Yes, that is part of the job of a civil defense attorney. However, Georgia law has protections for hotel guests through premises liability laws. Many crimes are completely preventable, so long as hotel operators do not turn a blind eye towards crime problems on their premises. Ordinary care is owed to hotel guests and if ordinary care in a particular area involves things like an on-duty security guard, adequate lighting of parking lots, breezeways, and halls, security cameras, parking passes for guests' vehicles, restricted access at certain hours, and other ordinary precautions used by hotels, then the law puts responsibility also on the hotel owner and/or operator.
O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33 is also another tool of civil defense attorneys. This Georgia statute provides for damages to be apportioned in accordance with the fault of parties and non-parties. So, for example, if a jury finds a hotel 20% at fault and the crime perpetrator 80% at fault, a $100,000 jury verdict would mean the hotel would only be responsible for 20% or $20,000. Often the crime perpetrators do not have assets from which to collect a judgment.
Crime Victims Have Rights
Crime victims in Georgia have rights, both as victims in the criminal justice system, as well as civilly. If you or a loved one have been injured in a crime that occurred on the premises of a hotel or any other business, please contact personal injury attorney Richard Armond. He has the unique skill set of years of experience prosecuting these cases. Based in Gwinnett County, he takes cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia.
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or loss in on the premises of a hotel or any other business contact Gwinnett County based injury lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation.
Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.