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More Questions than Answers after Lawrenceville Apartment Complex Shooting

A recent shooting at a Lawrenceville, Georgia, apartment complex has left two men dead and both police and apartment complex officials searching for a suspect.padlock-1-960877-m

As our experienced personal injury attorneys in Atlanta understand, rape, sexual assault, shooting and other forms of violent crime may result not only in criminal charges but in a civil complaint against the owner of the property. Apartment complex owners have a responsibility to take all necessary precautions to keep tenants and guests safe. Prior property crimes may give a landlord notice of possible future crimes against a person. Apartment complex owners who knew that similar crimes took place may be liable for the victim's injuries.

Two men found shot to death in Gwinnett County apartment

According to WSB-TV, the fatal shooting occurred on Feb. 9 at a Lawrenceville apartment complex. The two victims, ages 24 and 22, were found in the hallway of a third-story apartment and inside the apartment. A third person escaped harm by hiding in a back room and jumping off the third-story balcony and into the bushes.

As of the time of the report, Police had yet to name suspects or a motive in the double homicide. The apartment complex said it was looking at surveillance video to determine whether the suspect entered the gated community with permission, sneaked inside or forcibly entered the apartment in which the shootings occurred.

In the wake of the shooting, neighbors told WSB-TV that the apartment complex and surrounding neighborhood has been "getting worse" over the past couple years, with one neighbor saying that the neighborhood had become much less safe due to shootings, assaults and other forms of violent crime.

Premises liability and apartment complex safety

While the cause of the homicide is under investigation and no suspect has been named, a separate fatal shooting that occurred on the grounds of a Gwinnett County apartment complex in April 2014 raised concerns over property owner liability in preventing violent crime that includes shootings, armed robbery and trespassing.

In July 2014, 11 Alive reported that a bystander was fatally shot outside his apartment after two men suddenly got into an argument with a group of people, resulting in gunshots. 11 Alive reports that the bystander's survivors filed a lawsuit against the apartment complex management and owners for allegedly covering up crime at the complex.

According to the report, Gwinnett County police reports indicated that the apartment complex had a history of assaults, shootings, robberies, rape and sexual assault. However, it was alleged that apartment complex owners failed to warn residents and prospective residents about the dangers or take the necessary steps to make their premises safer for residents.

What responsibilities do property owners have in preventing crime?

Property owners and managers are responsible for providing safe premises for patrons and guests. Negligent security can involve improperly functioning locks that allow a perpetrator into an apartment or hotel room, a failure on apartment owners to address known issues in a high-crime area, broken security cameras or a lack of security guards on a dangerous premises.

When it is found that a property owner fails to safeguard tenants, patrons or guests against known hazards on that property, an injury victim - or his or her loved ones - may have a right to file a claim against that property owner if negligent security has contributed or causes a violent crime such as a rape, sexual assault or shooting.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit www.garymartinhays.com to schedule a free consultation if you have been injured in Atlanta, Duluth, Savannah or surrounding areas of Georgia.

Measuring the Losses from Motor Vehicle Accidents

Measuring the losses and damage that motor vehicle accidents cause illustrates the scope of the issue in the United States. In 2010, there were 32,999 deaths due to accidents as well as an additional 3.9 million non-fatal injuries and 24 million damaged vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), the total combined cost of these collisions was around $871 billion. This includes both economic costs as well as societal impact on citizens in the United States. grungy-money-4-1361620-m

Individual car accident victims may experience significant financial harm resulting from accidents. They may be faced with medical bills and lost wages, as well as a decreased quality of life and ongoing pain. Family members of those who are killed also experience great injustice. The driver responsible for causing the motor vehicle collision needs to be held accountable, and accident attorneys in Atlanta from the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. can help those who have been injured.

Measuring the Scale of Loss

The $871 billion in losses that the NHTSA calculated included $277 billion in actual economic expenditures like medical treatment. These costs average out to around $900 per U.S. citizen. The total also included $594 billion in harm resulting from the loss of life, the decreased quality of life from those seriously injured, and the pain that the injured endure.

There are three specific types of collisions that are responsible for the majority of these costs and losses: drunk driving accidents, speeding accidents and collisions caused by distracted drivers.

Crashes caused by drunk drivers accounted for a total of 18 percent of all of the economic losses and 23 percent of the overall societal harm that resulted from motor vehicle collisions in 2010. In total, there were $49 billion in economic losses and another $199 billion in losses to society that occurred because of drivers who were impaired by alcohol. The economic losses alone averaged out to $158 for every single person in the country.

Crashes caused by speeding drivers accounted for 21 percent of all of the economic losses and 24 percent of the overall societal harm that occurred due to motor vehicle accidents in 2010. In total, the economic losses from speeding drivers equaled $59 billion or an average of $191 per person in the United States. The costs of overall societal harm from speeding drivers totaled around $210 billion.

Finally, crashes caused by distracted drivers accounted for 17 percent of total economic loss and 15 percent of overall societal harm. The economic losses totaled $46 billion and the societal losses totaled $129 billion. Again, just the economic costs averaged out to around $148 for every single individual in the United States.

Because of the high costs of collisions, those who are injured or who lose loved ones must take legal action to protect their finances and get the compensation they deserve. An experienced attorney can help in pursuing a damage claim after a motor vehicle accident.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS or visit http://www.garymartinhays.com to schedule a free consultation.

Recent Motorcycle Accidents Raise Concerns over Driver Safety

A motorcycle accident occurred in Gwinnett County in late May after a car crossed the center line on Winder Highway and struck an oncoming motorcycle in a head-on collision. According to WSB-TV, the three-vehicle accident caused two vehicles to roll over, and occupants of all vehicles were hospitalized.Brappp

While thankfully there were no fatalities in the Gwinnett County crash, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported a motorcyclist in Buford wasn't so lucky in April after being struck from behind by a vehicle following too closely. The accident caused a chain reaction resulting in the motorcyclist being struck by multiple vehicles and sustaining fatal injuries.

The Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports a sharp decrease in fatal motorcycle accidents across the United States from 2012 to 2013. However, evidence suggests this decline was caused by weather and not better safety measures. Motorcycle accident victims who believe their accident was caused by a careless driver should discuss their legal options with an accident attorney in Atlanta immediately after their crash.

Preventing motorcycle accidents in Georgia

According to GHSA statistics, 97 fatal motorcycle accidents occurred in Georgia during the first nine months of 2013, representing a 13 percent decrease from same time period in 2012. Georgia's motorcycle fatality rates reflect a national trend in declining fatal motorcycle accidents. In fact, the state exceeded the average decrease of 10 percent nationwide.

The GHSA suggests the reason for the nationwide decline in fatal motorcycle accidents was due to 2013 being a colder, stormier, wetter year than 2012. The trend appears to have carried into 2014 with February's unusual snow and ice storm. Severe weather typically leads to fewer riders using Georgia roads.

While there may be fewer riders on the road, drivers of cars still must keep an eye out for motorcycles. They must respect motorcyclists' right to use the road in the same way they respect the rights of other drivers on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently published a list of important tips that can improve safety conditions for motorcyclists.

Published in May as part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the report by the NHTSA advises drivers to:

  • Give motorcyclists the full width of the lane they're occupying.
  • Use turn signals when merging or changing lanes.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots carefully for motorcycles.
  • Allow at least a three-to-four second following distance to avoid rear-end accidents with motorcyclists who have to stop quickly.
  • Avoid driving distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Motorcyclists are urged to follow a number of safety tips, too, including:

  • Use helmets compliant with Department of Transportation (DoT) specifications.
  • Drive only with a valid motorcycle license and after receiving safety training.
  • Wear brightly colored and reflective clothing.
  • Use turn signals and hand signals while changing lanes or turning.
  • Stay in the middle of the lane where you are most visible to drivers.

If motorcyclists and drivers follow these basic safety tips and respectfully share the road with one another, hopefully further motorcycle accidents will be prevented in Georgia in the future.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS to schedule a free consultation

Disability Insurance Often Overlooked -- Most Dependent Upon SSD for Benefits

Social Security Disability lawyers in Atlanta know that the Social Security Disability system is intended to provide a safety net for people who become disabled and who are not able to work as a result of a severe injury or medical condition.  Social Security Disability benefits are available in two different programs - Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) for people who have worked and paid into the system, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for disabled individuals with limited resources and low incomes regardless of their work history.

SSDI and SSI provide modest monthly compensation, with SSDI benefits based on how much you earned over your work life and SSI benefits capped at $710 per month for an eligible person as of 2013.  For many people, these benefits are the only source of income if they are unable to work, as most data indicates that few people purchase private disability insurance to protect themselves if they get hurt or sick and cannot hold a job.

Many Forego Private Disability Insurance Plans

US News recently reported that most experts believe disability coverage is an "essential way for people to protect themselves from unexpected illness, accidents or other problems that prevent them from working." Yet, the Hartford Financial Services Group indicates that while 57 percent of workers aged 20-30 have life insurance, only 45 percent have short term disability coverage and just 39 percent have long-term disability coverage.

The vast majority of workers will not have an insurance policy to turn to if something happens to them over the course of their working careers. Since the Social Security Administration estimates that a 20 year-old-worker has a 30 percent chance of being disabled at some point before the worker reaches the age of 65, this means that many young workers today will find themselves unable to work and with few places to turn.

For those who suffer a long-term disability, SSD benefits at least are available, provided that the worker is able to qualify. With as many as 75 percent of initial applicants denied for benefits and 60 percent of people denied when they appeal the initial decision, however, counting on disability benefits alone is a big risk. For those who experience a short-term disability, there is no chance of getting monthly income through either SSI or SSDI, as both programs provide benefits only to people who have been disabled for at least 12 months, who will be disabled for that long or who have a terminal illness.

The risks that people take by not having disability insurance is a big one, but unfortunately it will be difficult to get more young people to invest in this type of policy. Only about a third of all young workers have access to disability insurance through workplace benefit programs and it can be costly to buy coverage on the private individual market.

Young workers who opt out of buying the costly coverage will need to hope that they are able to save enough financial resources to make it through periods of short-term illness and that they can make a successful application for SSD if they experience a more long-term medical problem.

If you are disabled, Social Security Disability lawyers in Atlanta can help you make a claim for benefits. Contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates at 1-800-898-HAYS. Attorney is not the author of this blog.