Multiple Victims in Columbia Apartment Shooting
Five people, including three teenagers, were seriously injured in a mass shooting incident at a South Carolina apartment complex that caters to university students.
When officers responded to a call of a shooting at the Greene Crossing Apartments, they discovered five victims in an apartment building: the 20-year-old woman, a 22-year-old man, a 19-year-old man and two 16-year-old boys. The 20-year-old woman didn’t survive her injuries.
University of South Carolina police said none of the victims are affiliated with the university.
Duty of Care
Individuals are criminally responsible for assaults and the other violent crimes they commit. Landlords and other property owners are often financially responsible for such incidents. They have a duty of care to provide secure environments, as follows:
- Invitee: If the owner gave the victim permission to be on the land, and the victim’s presence benefited the owner, the owner had a duty of reasonable care. This legal obligation requires them to proactively address negligent security and other possible injury hazards. Apartment tenants are invitees.
- Non-Invitee: If the owner gave the victim at least tacit permission to be on the premises, but the victim didn’t benefit the owner (licensee), a lesser duty of care. Apartment tenant guests are usually licensees. Owners typically owe no duty of care to trespassers (no permission and no benefit).
This same analysis applies to swimming pool injuries, falls, and other premises liability personal injury claims.
Knowledge of Hazard
Additionally, in a negligent security-related injury claim, a Columbia personal injury lawyer must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the owner knew, or should have known, about the injury-causing hazard. Negligent security issues include:
- Lax security policy,
- Broken cameras,
- Burned-out lights,
- Broken gates, and
- Inadequate security level (e.g. no live security when live security is reasonably necessary).
A combination of negligent security issues probably lead to the above incident. Many apartment complexes have very lax security policies. They let anyone come on the premises for any reason. Furthermore, many landlords don’t promptly respond to noise complaints and otherwise intervene before a situation becomes violent. They only respond after someone has been injured.
If an owner knows about a security lapse, the owner also knows that something like a multiple shooting could happen. Therefore, the owner could stop such incidents before they happen. Under the law, a property owner, or anyone else, cannot shirk that kind of responsibility.
In addition to factual knowledge, a Columbia personal injury attorney must prove foreseeability (possibility) of injury. Evidence on this point includes the area’s crime rate and prior similar incidents at that location.
Third Party Liability
USC police quickly said that no university employees were involved in the above incident. That declaration might or might not be accurate.
Assault is an intentional tort. Employers could be liable for such intentional torts under the negligent hiring or negligent supervision theory.
Basically, negligent hiring is knowingly hiring an incompetent worker to do a certain job. Special rules apply if the incompetence is a prior criminal record. Negligent supervision is usually a failure to properly watch employees or a failure to properly discipline them when they break the rules.
Either theory could apply in the above story. Universities often hire workers with checkered pasts and/or look the other way when they should be disciplined.
Work With a Tough-Minded Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.