Statute of Limitations
Georgia law imposes a duty on apartment building owners to take reasonable precautions to avoid foreseeable injuries associated with their property. For example, if the apartment owner offers apartments in a security-locked building, the owner must repair damaged security locks because outsiders might enter the building and harm tenants if the doors can be opened without a key.
Particularly when apartment buildings are located in an area with a high crime rate, owners have a duty to assure that parking areas and entryways have adequate lighting. A breach of that duty may encourage robberies or other criminal acts to occur under cover of darkness. Some of those crimes result in injuries inflicted by shootings.
The time for bringing a lawsuit against a negligent property owner or manager is not unlimited. Victims must generally bring the lawsuit before the deadline set by Georgia’s statute of limitations for negligence claims.
Statute of Limitations for Negligence that Causes a Shooting at a Georgia Apartment
In most cases, the deadline for suing an apartment building owner or manager for a negligent act that makes a shooting possible is two years from the date of the shooting. After two years, the right to bring a lawsuit may be lost. That two-year deadline for filing a lawsuit is known as the “limitations period.”
Under certain circumstances, the time to bring a lawsuit might be longer or shorter than two years. For example, if the shooting victim is a minor, the two-year limitations period does not begin to run until the victim reaches the age of 18. That “tolling” of the limitations period allows a minor victim to bring a lawsuit at any time before reaching the age of 20.
The limitations period might also be shorter if the apartment building is owned by the government. In addition to shorter time limits, the law requires the victim to give notice of the claim to a public housing authority or other applicable government entity soon after the shooting. The deadline for giving notice may be as short as six months. A personal injury lawyer should be consulted immediately after the shooting so that the appropriate deadline can be calculated.
Another provision of Georgia law tolls the time limit when the person sued has committed a crime. Under those circumstances, the period for bringing a lawsuit may be extended by as much as six years. While that provision typically applies to lawsuits against the shooter, in rare cases the property owner might also have committed a crime that is associated with the shooting. Again, a Georgia crime victim lawyer can determine whether the tolling provision applies to the circumstances of the shooting.
Deadlines for Notifying Insurance Companies of Lawsuits
When a claim is made against a property owner’s insurance company, Georgia law imposes no time limit (other than the limitations period) on making a demand to settle the insurance claim. The deadline imposed by a limitations period relates to filing a lawsuit. If the claim is not settled before the limitations period expires, however, the right to recover compensation will be lost unless a lawsuit is filed before the limitations period ends.
Your renter’s insurance probably will not cover your injuries if someone shoots you. If you accidentally shoot someone, however, your renter’s insurance should cover any damages claim against you, up to the limits of coverage that you purchased.
To assure that you do not lose that coverage by violating the terms of your insurance contract, you should notify your insurance company of the potential claim right away. Don’t wait until you are sued or contacted by a lawyer. Your policy probably requires you to report the shooting promptly, whether or not the shooting results in a claim or lawsuit.