An argument among several women ended badly as two participants and a bystander were rushed to nearby hospitals with serious injuries.
According to police, several women got into a fight near the parking lot of a local apartment complex. One woman had a knife and another one had a gun. The situation escalated and three people, including a shooting and stabbing victim, were seriously injured.
One victim apparently didn’t participate in the fight. She said she closed her apartment door when she saw the weapons. Subsequently, a bullet penetrated both the door and her leg before it lodged in her child’s bedroom’s wall.
Duty of Care
In many situations, like a fall inside a grocery store, the duty of care is relatively straightforward. The store usually has exclusive control over the entire premises. Occasionally, fast-food restaurants, nail salons, and other third parties set up shop in the store. Sometimes these vendors are responsible for injuries which happen on their turf, and sometimes the grocery store is responsible. A Lexington personal injury attorney must normally examine the lease.
Apartments are even more complex. Technically, the apartment complex is usually responsible for safety issues inside apartment units. But the complex doesn’t have exclusive control over individual units. So, responsibility is hard to pin down.
That’s not the case in hallways, parking lots, walkways, and other common areas. The complex clearly has exclusive control over these areas. So, the duty of care is in full force and effect.
This responsibility is usually a duty of reasonable care. That’s because tenants are invitees. Their leases give them permission to be on the property, and their rent payments benefit the owner economically. The same duty normally applies even if the tenant has violated the lease or is behind on rent payments.
Guests of apartment tenants are usually licensees. These individuals have permission to be at the apartment, but there is no benefit to the owner. Since the relationship is more distant, the duty of care is lower.
This duty includes a responsibility to provide a reasonable level of security. What’s “reasonable” largely depends on the facts. At some locations, a few cameras and locks might be sufficient. Other places might require live, armed guards to deter things like violent arguments.
The duty of care also changes seasonally. According to the heat hypothesis, violent incidents, like assaults, increase when temperatures rise. Apartment owners have a responsibility to react accordingly.
Knowledge of Hazard
Theoretical responsibility is not enough for victims to obtain compensation in negligence security cases. The owner must also know about the hazard which caused injury. This knowledge could be direct or circumstantial.
Most negligent security claims rely on circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known). The aforementioned heat hypothesis is a good example. In the fall, winter, and spring, most apartment complexes require lower levels of security. These needs change when the weather warms up. Ignoring the reality of the heat hypothesis also means that apartment complex owners ignore their safety responsibilities under Kentucky law.
The burden of proof in these claims is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a little proof goes a long way.
Normally, foreseeability (possibility) is not much of an issue in negligence cases. Inadequate security claims are usually much different. Indeed, the entire claim may hinge on foreseeability, or the lack thereof.
The obscure foreseeability rule comes from 1928’s Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad. The case began innocently enough. Ms. Palsgraf and her daughters were waiting for a train to New York City’s Rockaway Beach.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the station and in a scene right out of a Three Stooges short film, a last-minute passenger tried to board a departing train as it sped away from the platform. One railroad worker tried to push the overweight man into the car from behind, and another one tried to pull him in from the opposite direction.
During all this jostling, the passenger dropped a package of fireworks. The resulting explosion caused a set of huge scales to fall on Ms. Palsgraf.
The court later ruled that, although the railroad workers were negligent, the railroad company wasn’t responsible for Ms. Palsgraf’s damages. The workers couldn’t possibly predict the whole fireworks, explosion, and toppling chain of events.
Evidence of foreseeability in a negligent security claim usually includes prior similar incidents either in the area or on the property. The area’s reputation as a high crime area, or lack thereof, might come into play as well.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money. #goodelawyers