Atlanta Crime Victim Lawyers
If you were injured while a crime was committed on someone else’s property, you can obtain justice and equitable compensation by suing the property owner. Too often, property and business owners know of an imminent or existing danger, but do nothing to protect the people on their property.
If you were injured, you don’t have to be a victim; let Mike Rafi help you as he’s helped thousands of clients.
Why do you need a negligent security lawyer in Atlanta?
When you are shopping in a store, pumping gas, staying in a hotel, or are a paying customer on anyone’s property, you expect that you are safe. In these situations, you are considered an “invitee.” In Georgia, landowners and businesses must use reasonable care to keep the property safe for invitees.
When a business knows of (or should know of) a security threat to its patrons, the business must do something. The business could:
- Close down until the threat no longer remains
- Warn you about the danger
- Provide reasonably security measures to protect customers who are not informed of the threat
However, businesses often choose to do none of these things. Instead, they stay open, do not warn customers, and do not protect customers. The reason for this is usually that keeping people safe costs the business money.
Negligent security cases are brought by crime victims after being injured on another’s property. When a business knows (or should have known) of a security concern, but does not act reasonably to protect their customers, the business can be held responsible.
What types of crimes will an Atlanta negligent security lawyer help with?
- Apartment complexes
- Hotels and motels
- Gas stations
- Bars and restaurants
- Shopping centers malls
- Stores and their parking lots
- Colleges and other schools
Contact an Atlanta Crime Victim Lawyer
Mike Rafi has helped crime victims recover more than $15 million in negligent security cases. These are cases where a person is injured because a business, like an apartment complex, shopping center, gas station, or restaurant failed to provide adequate security to protect their customers and guests.
If you were hurt at an unsafe property, you may be able to recover substantial money for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
What does a negligent security lawyer do?
Lawyers can’t win negligent security cases by sitting in their cozy office waiting for evidence to magically come to them. The first thing Mike Rafi does after being asked to investigate a negligent security case is to drop everything and head to the crime scene. In many cases, Mike is at the crime scene within hours of the crime.
Once Mike arrives, he takes photographs of everything that could be important, speaks to police investigators and first responders, interviews witnesses, and starts learning everything he can about the location.
Obtain a Crime Grid
It is very important to find out all of the crime and dangerous activity that has happened at the location. Most customers have no idea whether the business is safe; they just figure (and reasonably so) that it is. It is the business owner or occupier that should know about everything that has happened at their location. After all, it is their business.
One way to determine the amount and types of prior crime is to obtain a crime grid from the police. Crime grids show crimes that were reported to police at a specific location. This is what a crime grid typically looks like:
The most important types of crimes are the ones that are similar to the crime that injured you: homicides, aggravated assaults with a weapon, gun, or knife, assaults, batteries, and discharge of firearms.
Find Former Victims and Employees
The information Mike Rafi learns from witnesses and the crime grid will help him determine if there were any other previous victims. If there are, the next step is to find and speak with those victims, and if necessary, ask them to testify.
The same goes for former employees. Many times, employees leave because they wanted to do the right thing like increase security, the owner refused, and so the employee got fed up and left. Many former employees are willing to speak freely and openly about their former employer or things that happened at the location.
In one case, Mike Rafi found a woman who worked as a leasing agent at an apartment complex. Mike found the former employee, told her about his client who had been shot six times, and asked her to testify about the complex, the owner, and prior crimes. The former employee agreed to testify. In this photo, she is testifying about documents that may have been destroyed by the owner. The big stack of papers in the middle and the stack on the left together are the amount of internal documents about safety she said should have existed – the stack on the right is what the owner said he had.
Mike spends a tremendous amount of time searching for and speaking with former victims and employees. That’s why Mike’s clients get better results.
Meet With Experts
Mike has a network of experts that he relies on and that juries trust. In crime victim cases, expert witnesses typically determine:
- If crime was foreseeable, meaning whether crime could be reasonably anticipated by the landowner.
- If the landowner used reasonable security measures given the foreseeability of crime.
Experts rely on the information provided to them by the attorney, so Mike’s comprehensive investigations ensure experts get the information they need.
Prepare for Trial
Mike helps crime victims win their cases by preparing every case for trial. Lawyers who assume they will settle cases are forced to play catch-up once settlement negotiations fail – this puts the lawyer, and in turn, the client’s chance at winning at a severe damage.
As time goes on, gathering facts becomes more difficult because witnesses move or forget things. To be successful at trial, Mike Rafi knows that preparation and planning start from the moment he begins working on the case.
What is considered a violent crime?
A violent crime is committed when the victim is harmed or threatened with harm. Violent crimes include murder, assault, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape and sexual assault, child endangerment, kidnapping, robbery, and more. According to the FBI, there are only four types of violent crime: murder, rape and sexual assault, robbery, and assault.
Types of Violent Crimes
- Sexual assault
How do you prove that security was negligent?
Businesses will do all they can to avoid responsibility. Almost always, a business will argue that the crime and injury were not “foreseeable,” which means the business could not reasonably expect the crime would happen on the property and that the victim would be injured.
Mike uses his knowledge of similar businesses and the area, his relationship with people in the community, and dedication to completing a thorough investigation to prove businesses who make this argument wrong.
Businesses also routinely claim there was nothing they could do to keep a crime victim safe – that even if they had security measures, the crimes still would have happened. This excuse is unacceptable because most times, the business has never even tried to implement any security measures – most likely because they didn’t want to pay for them.
When businesses open their doors to and take money from customers, they should spend their money to keep customers safe.
Mike Rafi has successfully shown in many cases that if businesses actually had security measures in place, then his clients would not have been injured. Mike knows what businesses will try to say to escape responsibility, and he knows how to prove them wrong.
Contact Mike if you were injured at a business and believe they should have done more to keep you safe.
Examples of Reasonable Security Measures
Businesses that invite customers to their property should have security measures in place, especially when they know of prior crimes at their locations. Some ways that businesses can protect their customers are:
- Well-thought safety policies and procedures that are actually followed
- Sufficient lighting
- Security guards
- Gates and fences
- Controlled access checkpoints and locks on doors and gates
- Video cameras and signage
- Proper background checks on employees and residences
How To Protect Yourself in an Apartment Complex
1. Research Crime at the Apartment Complex
Even before you go look at an apartment complex, you can find out information and statistics about crime in the area and at the complex. Call local police and ask if any officers are familiar with and will talk to you about the complex. Also, be sure to search the internet for information about the complex.
These websites will help you find information:
When you do go to the complex, ask management about any recent crimes. Ask management if they have issued any warnings to residents about crime or dangerous activity. Also ask any residents that you see if they know of any crime, if they feel safe, and if they think security measures are adequate.
2. Check Entrances and Exits To the Complex and Its Buildings
When you first get to the apartment complex, take notice of the entrances to the complex itself and individual buildings. When you leave, do the same thing with the exits. Gates at the entrances to the complex will help deter criminals from committing crimes on the property.
At entrance points, gates prevent unwanted people from entering, and at exit points, gates prevent criminals from getting away quickly committing a crime.
Individual buildings within the complex can have security to keep criminals away. It is best if doors on the outside of the building only allow people in who have the correct key, passcode, or the okay from someone inside the building already. These controlled-access doors reduce break-ins, loitering, and the chance that you will be hurt at the complex.
3. Find Out if There Are Security Guards
If there are security guards at the complex, then you should quickly see them. The presence of security guards will help stop criminals from coming on the property. Whether you see security guards or not, you should ask whether the complex has them. If there are guards, ask how many and whether the guards travel on foot and in vehicles. Make sure the patrols are randomly timed throughout the day, so criminals can’t learn the patrol’s schedule.
If the complex doesn’t have guards, ask why not. Ask whether the complex regularly re-evaluates the need for security. Also ask if the complex has ever had security before, and if so, why it stopped having security.
4. Look at the General Upkeep
While you are at the apartment complex, take a look at how the complex looks in general. Boarded or broken windows, run-down or damaged buildings or parking lots, and unkempt landscaping are all signs that the landlord does not properly maintain the property. Think about it: if the landlord doesn’t keep the place looking good, do you think they are worried about security?
5. Check for Security Cameras and Signs
When you walk into certain stores and many gas stations, you will be able to tell security cameras are in use because you will see yourself live on a television screen. There are also usually signs telling you that you are being recorded. These things are important because security cameras can only deter crimes if criminals know they will be recorded.
If you see security cameras and signs, ask why the complex has them – find out if it is because there was prior crime. Ask whether the footage is reviewed and how long the footage is saved for.
If there are no security cameras and signs, then ask if there are cameras that you can’t see. If there aren’t, ask if the complex is considering cameras and learn why they think they do or don’t need the cameras.
6. Evaluate Lighting
Poorly-lit or dark areas make it easier for criminals to gain access to the property and commit crimes. Before you agree to move in, go to the complex at night. Check the entrances, parking lot, walkways, hallways, stairways, elevators, mailbox areas, laundry rooms, and other common areas to make sure all these places are well-lit. The more places that are well-lit, the safer you will be.
7. Request New Exterior Door Locks
Every apartment complex should change the locks after a tenant moves out and before a new tenant moves in. The benefit of this is probably obvious: you have no idea if prior tenants actually returned their keys or whether they made copies. Ultimately, the fewer people who have access to your new apartment, the better.
But, apartment complexes don’t always actually change the locks, or if they do, they will just re-use locks used on other apartment doors. Since you can’t be sure the landlord actually changed the lock, ask if the complex will change the locks in front of you – if they refuse, then you should look elsewhere.
8. Check Window Locks
According to some estimates, up to 30% of criminals enter through windows. When you are inside the apartment, make sure all of the window locks are properly working. If they are broken ask for them to be replaced.
Test the windows by locking them and making sure you can’t open the window. If you can, request an apartment on a higher floor – it may take longer to carry your groceries up the stairs, but it will help you sleep safe and sound at night.
9. Look Through the Peephole
A peephole is a simple thing that can protect you while you are inside your apartment. If there is a peephole, make sure you can look from inside to outside and clearly see a person on the other side. If the door does not have a peephole, then ask for one.
Never open your door unless you know who is on the other side. A peephole lets you make sure you know the person at the door.
5 Things To Do After You Move In
1. Regularly Check About Crime
Once you move in, you should keep an eye out for any crimes. Regularly ask management if there has been any crime at the complex. Talk to residents and learn if they have heard of any dangerous activity. Be on the lookout for any police officers or police cars on the property, and if you see them, find out why they were there.
Remember to also search your apartment complex on the internet every so often to see if any crime stories pop up.
2. Buy Additional Locks
Even if you had the complex change exterior locks, consider installing a deadbolt and door-chain. A deadbolt is more secure than a standard lock to pick because the deadbolt will only open by rotating the lock cylinder, while a standard lock is controlled by a spring bolt that can be opened by applying force to it.
A door-chain, like a deadbolt, is an added security measure that lets you identify and talk to visitors without completely unlocking and opening your door.
3. Protect Sliding Doors
Sliding doors are a great feature in an apartment but can be an entry point for criminals if improperly manufactured or installed. Many sliding doors have cheap or faulty locks and can be forced off their tracks with relatively little force.
Buy and use a security bar that prevents a sliding door from being opened from the outside – these bars can attach to the door itself or sit on the track.
4. Put Blinds in Your Windows
Blinds prevent would-be criminals from window shopping at your apartment. Install blinds that will completely block people outside of your apartment from seeing inside, and make sure you close your blinds when you leave your apartment.
5. Install a Security System
Studies show criminals try to determine if an apartment they are targeting has a security system before breaking in and if so, they will look for an easier target. In the past, the cost of installing a security system made it difficult for apartment renters to do so, but now, many companies have free installs.
Newer apartments may even have security systems already installed, so all you have to do is activate the system.
Crime Victims Questions & Answers
It may take 30-60 days for the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program (CVCP) to disburse payments to victims. Once submitted and approved, allow up to four weeks for payment before contacting. How much each person may receive from the program varies depending on services required and the unique situation.
The Victim’s Compensation Program covers:
- Up to $15,000 in medical expenses
- Up to $3,000 in counseling services
- Up to $10,000 in lost wages and economic support in cases of domestic violence.
- Up to $6,000 in funeral costs.
- Up to $1,500 in crime scene clean up
In cases where a crime has been committed, the court has most likely instituted a no-contact order between the defendant and the plaintiff. If a defendant contacts the victim of their crime by disobeying that court order, the victim may report the violation of the order.
An experienced Atlanta crime victim lawyer will know that reporting this violation correctly can help the victim not only prove their case but also show that the defendant doesn’t respect the court system and fails to follow simple court orders, which reflects poorly on the defendant.
If the plaintiff has also requested a protection order and the defendant violates that as well, the defendant may be subject to more severe consequences. In these cases, contact should always be handled through the attorneys on the case.
The standard for most criminal charges is four years, with misdemeanors coming in at just two years. In cases of violent crimes like murder, rape, sexual assault, assault, battery, and armed robbery, the statute of limitations varies or doesn’t exist at all.
For instance, for the felony charge of rape, the statute of limitations is generally 15 years. But if the victim was under the age of 18 at the time, it becomes more complex.
In severe criminal cases where DNA is used to uncover the criminal, the statute of limitations is voided and they may be prosecuted at any time. Examples of these exceptions include armed robbery, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, kidnapping, and more.
Resources and Information
The Crime Victims Advocacy Council (CVAC) is dedicated to preventing crime and assisting crime victims and their families and communicates in Georgia through quality education, advocacy, counseling, and legislative initiatives. CVAC was founded in 1989 and has helped close to 10,000 crime victims. Click here to view CVAC’s brochure.
CVAC has a hotline for crime victims to call if they need support: 770-333-9254.
CVAC also offers scholarships to qualified, degree-seeking students. These one-year scholarships are offered in the amount of $2,000.00 and will be based upon merit, need, and the availability of funds. Click here to download the application.
The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council administers the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program, which helps victims and their families through the emotional and physical aftermath of crime.
The Compensation Program eases the monetary impact to families by providing financial benefits for expenses such as medical bills, loss of earnings, funeral expenses, mental health counseling, and crime scene sanitization.
To be eligible for the program:
- You are an innocent victim of a violent crime and suffered personal injury
- You went to the aid of another and suffered personal injury and/or serious mental or emotional trauma as a result
- You witnessed or were threatened with a crime and suffered serious mental or emotional trauma as a result
- You are the parent or legal guardian of a minor victim
- You are the parent or legal guardian of a minor victim and you lost wages or support due to the victimization
- You are the surviving spouse, parent, sibling, or child of a homicide victim (includes step relationships for crimes occurring on or after May 6, 2015)
- You were legally dependent on support from a deceased crime victim
- You are a domestic violence victim who is dependent on support from the offender
- You are not the victim, but you have been paying bills related to the crime
The Georgia Crime Victims Bill of Rights provides individuals who are victims of certain crimes specific rights.
These rights include:
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of the arrest, release, or escape of the accused
- The right not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings, except as provided by law
- The right to be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused
- The right to file a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused
- The right to confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim
- The right to restitution as provided by law
- The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay
- The right to be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case
The Crime Victims Bill of Rights specifically applies to victims of the following crimes:
- Assault and battery
- Kidnapping, false imprisonment, and related offenses
- Reckless conduct
- Cruelty to children
- Stalking and aggravated stalking
- Cruelty to a person 65 years of age or older
- All sexual offenses
- Arson, Bombs, and explosives
- Forgery, deposit account fraud, illegal use of financial transaction cards, other fraud-related offenses, computer crimes, and identity theft
- Sale or distribution of harmful materials to minors
- Homicide by vehicle
- Feticide by vehicle
- Serious injury by vehicle
Kate’s Club is an Atlanta non-profit dedicated to providing support for children and teens (ages 5-18) grieving the death of a parent or sibling. All programs are offered at no cost to families and are a unique mix of social, recreational, and therapeutic activities. You can learn more about Kate’s club on their website or by calling 404-347-7619.
For an application to Kate’s Club, click here.
He was beyond professional and hardworking.
We highly recommend Rafi Law Firm! Mike’s services led to the most equitable outcome.
Mr.Rafi and his team were a pleasure to work with!