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Banks may be liable to victims of ATM robberies

Willie Sutton, the notorious bank robber, is famous, although perhaps incorrectly so, for having responded to the question of why he robbed banks with the line, 'Because that's where the money is." Similarly, many crimes are committed at or near the vicinity of ATMs located on the exterior of banks. If the ATM itself is hacked or a customer is assaulted, those are crimes for Georgia law enforcement agencies to deal with. But there may be another legal course of action for the customer to pursue.

Under the concept of premises liability, the bank or financial institution is required to maintain the premises where its customers come to do business in a safe manner. A failure to do so may expose the bank to civil liability for whatever injury or damages were sustained by its customers. Legal experts report that in some instances there may be a federal or state law that addresses the issue, and a violation of that law could lead to the bank's liability, but other circumstances could do so as well.

Generally speaking, the property owner or the one who is in control of the premises has a duty to regularly inspect for possible dangerous conditions. The controller is held to the standard of being required to make safe known dangers or dangers that should have been know. For example, if an ATM is located on the side of the building in a darkened area, a customer may slip and fall due to poor visibility. This also may be an inviting target area for a robbery, as well.

The facts and circumstances are critical in any potential premises liability case. A personal injury lawyer might assess the matter and determine whether negligence in the management of the premises created an unreasonable risk of harm that contributed to the assault.

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