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ATM Attacks & Bank Liability in Georgia

Posted in Uncategorized on January 20, 2017

ATMs (automated teller machines) are magnets for violent crimes, physical assaults, and robberies. Criminals know that ATMs are locations for depositing and withdrawing cash, and take advantage of unsuspecting users to force them to withdraw cash and hand it over. While fraud and identity theft get a lot of press and police attention, an  ATM robbery and violent attacks at banks remain largely underreported. Lax ATM security rules and negligent banks result in numerous physical assaults, muggings, and armed robberies every year. Here’s what you need to know after surviving a Georgia ATM attack.

Premises Liability Laws and Banks

Premises liability laws in every state describe an establishment’s responsibilities to its visitors and customers. Part of a property owner’s duties in keeping a reasonably safe premises for its visitors is to provide adequate security measures. The definition of “adequate” will vary depending on the type of establishment and the history of crimes in the business’s location. It’s a bank owner or company’s responsibility to gauge the risk of violent crime at an ATM and implement proper security measures to prevent harm to customers.

Thanks to 24/7 ATMs and walk-up ATMs at most major banks around the nation, there’s a need for banks to improve ATM security to prevent an ATM robbery. Many bank customers now visit ATMs to make deposits or withdrawals after hours, at night. It is a bank’s duty to provide adequate ATM lighting, security cameras, and security personnel as necessary to ensure the safety of ATM users. While not every ATM attack is the liability of the bank property owner, it may be in the following circumstances:

  1. The bank owner had a duty to protect ATM users. It’s every bank’s responsibility to provide for the reasonable safety of its customers. This includes remedying known hazards, inspecting for unknown hazards, and warning customers of existing dangers on a property.
  2. The bank knew about or should have known about a dangerous condition. Since a bank’s customers are invitees in the eyes of the law, a bank must exercise due diligence to find and fix any unreasonably hazardous condition. In the case of ATM attacks, any reasonable bank owner should be aware of the risk of bank attacks – especially in high-crime neighborhoods.
  3. The bank owner breached his duty by failing to address a known hazard. If the building owner did not take reasonable steps to secure the building and ATM from dangers, including violent attackers, the injured party may have a premises liability case.

It is a bank owner’s responsibility to research crime rates in the area, be aware of a previous history of attacks, and provide for adequate security according to the circumstances. Failure to hire a security guard, install cameras, or provide ample lighting may constitute property owner negligence. Banks should also have accessible parking close to ATMs, reflective ATM mirrors, and no bushes or tall landscaping that could conceal criminals.

What to Do After an ATM Attack

If you or a loved one suffered a violent attack or robbery resulting in personal injury or significant monetary loss in Georgia, seek the assistance of a Savannah premises liability attorney. Inadequate security is a common basis for premises liability cases in Georgia, especially when property owners reasonably should have known about an unsafe condition.

Private bank owners, property managers, and large banking corporations may be defendants in ATM attack injury cases. For example, if Wells Fargo failed to evaluate the security of an ATM in downtown Atlanta, resulting in unsafe premises conditions and a harmful ATM attack, the victim could potentially sue the Wells Fargo company. Speak to an attorney at Roden + Love to help determine the defendant(s) in your case and any potential grounds for a lawsuit.