Shooting Victim Compensation Attorneys
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a shooting or stabbing in Georgia, you may be entitled to compensation if the negligence of a property owner or manager allowed the assault to happen.
At Isenberg & Hewitt, PC, in Atlanta, our gun crime victim lawyers have more than 25 years of experience representing crime victims in Georgia. While no one can guarantee the safety of a given location, property owners and managers have a duty to take reasonable steps to assure the safety of guests. To discuss your case with an attorney at our firm, please call 770-901-2666 to schedule a free consultation.
Holding Property Owners And Managers Accountable
The owners and managers of commercial properties such as apartments, hotels, shopping centers, mobile home parks, hospitals, nursing homes and ATMs may be liable if they were negligent in providing security for guests.
Examples of negligence include:
- Failing to warn guests of known or foreseeable dangers on the premises
- Unsafe conditions such as poor lighting
- Inadequate security
Attorney Melvin Hewitt was selected for inclusion in the National Trial Lawyers, Top 100 trial lawyers and has appeared on television and radio programs addressing issues of negligent security and civil justice for crime victims.
Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are answers to some frequently asked questions we hear related to gun crimes. If you have additional questions about gun crime victim rights in Georgia, contact our lawyers today. We will answer your questions about your rights as a victim of gun related violence.
What is an Active Shooter Event?
Mass shootings are primarily an “American phenomenon,” according to the crime violence research group Gun Violence Archive. The GVA defines a mass shooting as an event in which four or more individuals (besides the shooter) are shot and injured or killed in a single incident. Under this definition, there have been 2,697 mass shootings in the U.S. between 2014 and 2020.
According to data compiled by the FBI, between 2000 and 2008, an average of seven active shooter events happened each year. However, from 2009 to 2016, 210 such events – an average of about 21 per year – occurred. Nearly half of these incidents happened in education, retail, or government settings, but no matter where they occurred, significant economic losses, including the following, usually resulted:
- Medical costs
- Funeral expenses
- Counseling bills
- Property damage and cleanup
- Security upgrades
- Crisis management costs
- Business interruption/event cancellation
- Criminal fines or penalties
Although most active shooter incidents don’t last long – often less than 15 minutes – they cause devastating damage, loss, and expense for victims and affected businesses.
The Foreseeability of Active Shooter Events
In most jurisdictions, a business owner is not liable to someone injured by the criminal acts of a third party unless the act was foreseeable. According to Section 344 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, “Since the possessor is not an insurer of the visitor’s safety, he is ordinarily under no duty to exercise any care until he knows or has reason to know that the acts of the third person are occurring, or are about to occur.”
Historically, courts have found that the actions of mass shooters are so unexpected and remote that no rational juror could find that a business owner should have foreseen them. Claims based on the duty to warn have been equally unsuccessful, and numerous juries have found that no duty to warn existed. For example, Indiana’s imposing foreseeability law makes it extremely difficult for plaintiffs to recover in mass shooting cases.
Mass shootings have also sparked numerous lawsuits, where courts are tasked with assigning liability to various businesses and individuals, such as:
- Owners and operators of venues where mass shootings occur
- Event promotors
- Security companies
- Law enforcement
- The shooter’s immediate family
- Mental health professionals
- Gun shops where the shooter acquired weapons
- Organizations that fail to report gun ownership disqualifying information to authorities
- Anyone who might have intercepted the shooter’s plan but did not
Determining liability for active shooter events frequently begs the question – are these types of events foreseeable?
However, as mass shooting incidents happen more frequently and garner greater attention, the opinion regarding whether or not these events are foreseeable has started to swing. Georgia, for example, has taken a challenging but somewhat less restrictive approach to the foreseeability issue. In Shadow v. Federal Express Corporation, which is currently pending in the Georgia Supreme Court, plaintiff Melissa Shadow is appealing a court of appeals split decision regarding the issue of foreseeability of the risk of a workplace mass shooting. Shadow was shot by a fellow package handler who went on a shooting rampage at the Kennesaw FedEx package sorting facility where she worked.
This case has exposed a crucial split of the Georgia state appeals court regarding the foreseeability of active shooter acts: one line of cases favors the landowner or proprietors based solely on previous criminal acts on the premises. The other, based on known dangerous conditions or characters, questions whether such acts are indeed foreseeable. The outcome of future mass shooting cases might depend on which path the Georgia High Court elects to follow.
What to Do in the Event of an Active Shooter Situation
On November 20, word spread regarding an active shooter at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, alarming and confusing travelers. While it was a false alarm – someone accidentally discharged a weapon, and no one was shot – fears of an active shooter at the busiest airport in the world prompted widespread panic.
The threat of mass attacks is real. However, there are steps everyone can take to prepare themselves and protect others. If you find yourself in a situation where an active shooter is present, knowing what to do can help save your life and the lives of others. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends that you prepare yourself mentally and physically by doing the following:
Evacuate – If Possible
Upon arrival at a new or unfamiliar place, take note of your surroundings and any potential dangers. Try to have at least two escape routes and plans in mind. If you must flee due to the presence of an active shooter, do so, regardless of whether others follow you. Leave your belongings behind, try to help others escape if you can, and attempt to prevent more people from entering the area.
Stay Out of Sight
If you cannot evacuate, find a place to hide out of the active shooter’s view to reduce the chances that they will see you. If shots are fired in your direction, try to move to an area that offers protection but does do limit your movement options. If you can get behind a locked door, blockade it with something heavy if possible. Silence your phone, turn off any other sources of noise, and remain as quiet as possible.
Disrupt or Disable
As a last resort, and only if your life is in immediate danger, you can try to disrupt or disable the shooter by yelling loudly, acting aggressively, throwing items, improvising weapons. At this point, there is no turning back, and you must commit to acting against the shooter.
Once you feel secure, help those wounded get to safety and provide immediate care as needed, if you can do so. But remember: Take care of yourself before you attempt to help anyone else.
When law enforcement arrives, stay calm and heed their instructions. Avoid making any quick movements and move in the direction from which the officers enter the premises – without stopping or asking the officers for help or guidance. If you can, give law enforcement a description of the shooter(s), their location, the number and type of weapons being held, and the number of potential victims.
After the first officers arrive, rescue teams of additional officers and emergency medical personnel will likely arrive next. Once you have reached a safe location, law enforcement will typically hold you in that area until the situation is under control and all witnesses have been identified. Don’t leave under the authorities instruct you to do so.
For More Information About Your Rights After a Criminal Assault
Our firm understands Georgia laws affecting liability of property owners, and we have a track record of success in recovering compensation for crime victims.
For a free initial consultation, call 770-901-2666 or complete our contact form today.