Premises owners in Georgia and around the country are not generally held responsible when criminals commit violent crimes on their properties as long as they were not warned about any looming threats and the incident was not foreseeable. Challenges to this legal position have usually fared poorly in the courts, but the plaintiffs in premises liability lawsuits do score an occasional victory. In February, a case against Planned Parenthood was allowed to proceed when a judge in Colorado ruled that the nonprofit organization knew about potential threats and should have taken more robust security measures.
The latest case of this type was filed recently on behalf of a married couple who both suffered serious injuries in a mass shooting incident that took place in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. Almost two dozen people died in the store and a similar number were injured. The big-box retailer admits it once hired off-duty police officers to provide security in the store but ended the practice to reduce overheads.
The premises liability lawsuit alleges that Walmart places profits over safety and that there was inadequate security. More than 200 violent crimes were committed at Walmart locations between January and July 2016 according to a Bloomberg study. Recent violent incidents in Walmart stores include a shooting in Mississippi and a hostage standoff in Texas.
Experienced personal injury attorneys may study crime reports before initiating premises liability litigation on behalf of a client who was the victim of a crime. A long list of similar incidents at the same location could be used to establish foreseeability and negligence in court. Attorneys could also check court records for similar lawsuits against the defendant and visit the scene of the incident to assess the security measures in place and their effectiveness.