In April 2022, authorities arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with a February 2022 apartment shooting in east Louisville.
Investigators say the suspect in custody and an accomplice shot and killed a 19-year-old man at the Maple Brook Apartments, which are near the intersection of Westport Road and Chamberlain Lane. According to an arrest warrant, the suspect in custody fled the scene after the shots were fired.
The suspect is being held in lieu of a $50,000 cash-only bail.
Investigations into matters like apartment shootings are often very time-consuming in criminal court. Lexington personal injury attorneys must also conduct such investigations. Usually, however, civil investigations are shorter than criminal investigations.
The burden of proof is the main difference. Criminal court prosecutors must have an almost overwhelming amount of evidence. The burden of proof in a criminal claim is beyond any reasonable doubt. This burden of proof applies in all the areas of a criminal investigation, which are motive, means, and opportunity. If the state cannot establish all three of these things, the case falls apart like a house of cards, and investigators put in their time for nothing.
In contrast, the burden of proof in civil court is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a little evidence goes a long way. Furthermore, a Lexington personal injury attorney must only prove two elements: breach, or violation of a legal duty, and causation. More on these things below.
Additionally, the government must abide by very strict procedural rules. Police officers can only operate in limited ways. Personal injury attorneys have much more freedom to collect evidence on behalf of their clients. That’s because compensation for injury, as opposed to punishment for a crime, is the primary issue in civil court.
Breach of Duty
Usually, the relationship between the victim and property owner determines the legal duty in Kentucky.
Apartment tenants are invitees. These individuals have permission to be on the land, and their presence benefits the owner economically. This status applies regardless of the circumstances. For example, if the victim is a family member of a paying tenant, the victim is still an invitee. The same thing applies if the apartments aren’t profitable.
Since the relationship is so close, the owner has a legal duty to remove known injury hazards. These hazards often include fall hazards, like uneven walkways, loose handrails, and wet spots on floors. Apartments often have negligent security hazards as well, such as:
- Burned-out lights,
- Nonfunctioning security gates, and
- Broken cameras.
Additionally, the level of security could be too low. For example, very few apartment complexes have onsite, armed security guards. Largely depending on foreseeability, which is discussed below, over-reliance on security cameras or a roving ”courtesy patrol” could be a breach of duty.
Guests of apartment tenants are usually licensees in Kentucky. Assuming the guest isn’t breaking the rules, the guest has permission to be at the property. However, there’s usually no benefit to the owner. In fact, most owners don’t even know their tenants have guests at a particular time.
The victim-owner relationship is more distant. Therefore, the duty of care is lower. Usually, owners must warn licensees about latent (hidden) defects.
Trespassers, the final category, are people who have no permission and produce no benefit. The evildoers in the above story were most likely trespassers. Owners cannot set traps for such people or otherwise intentionally hurt them, but otherwise, there’s no duty.
In a premises liability case, this element is basically two sub-elements: factual cause (knowledge of the hazard) and legal cause (foreseeability).
As for direct evidence of actual knowledge, Lexington personal injury attorneys usually find smoking guns, like security analysis reports, during discovery. Direct evidence is usually the best evidence of knowledge. Since discovery is relatively late in the lawsuit process, if a case settles too early, the best evidence might be unavailable, which means the victim’s compensation is lower.
Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) usually involves the time-notice rule. If someone props open a security gate in the middle of the night, the owner most likely wouldn’t know about it. But if the same thing happens during the day, the outcome is different, especially since the duty of care includes a duty to inspect the premises.
Legally, owners are only responsible for foreseeable (possible) negligent security injuries. Evidence of foreseeability includes the precise location (e.g. is the property off a busy interstate or a cul-de-sac), general location (high crime area), and prior similar incidents at that property and in that area.
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.