The Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion stemming from a Georgia premises liability lawsuit a woman filed against a shopping center (SC) after she suffered injuries in a car accident in the SC’s parking lot. According to the record, the woman and her daughter were driving in the parking lot when their vehicle collided with an SUV. The parties all exited their vehicles and began shouting and accusing each other. A mall security officer escorted the parties to another location and, after speaking with the other driver, advised everyone that they were free to leave. The other driver got into her vehicle and quickly reversed, knocking the plaintiff to the ground and pinning her leg under the tire, resulting in a complete amputation. A witness heard the altercation and heard the plaintiff’s daughter scream and heard the driver state, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it.”
The plaintiff and her family filed a lawsuit against the other driver, the SC, and the security company that provided services to the shopping center. Amongst other claims, the plaintiff argued that the SC was liable for premises liability, negligent security, and vicarious liability for the security guard’s actions. The defendant’s appealed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment.
The defendant argued that the law entitled them to summary judgment because the incident was not reasonably foreseeable. Under Georgia law, landowners or occupiers maintain a duty to keep their premises and approaches safe for their invitees. The law further explains that a property owner is not an “insurer” of an invitee’s safety from intervening criminal acts unless the criminal act was reasonably foreseeable. However, property owners may be liable if they have reason to anticipate a criminal act. In which case, they must meet their duty to exercise ordinary care to protect against injury from that act.
Establishing foreseeability requires a plaintiff to establish that the property owner had notice of a substantially similar prior criminal act. The court will look to the totality of the circumstances, such as the location and nature and extent of the previous criminal act. Further, they will evaluate the incidents’ proximity, likeness, and other similar characteristics.
Here, the plaintiffs cite five incidents that fall under the umbrella of “road rage.” The court did not determine whether the other driver’s act was road rage; however, they found none of the acts were substantially similar to the incident at issue. The only similarity between the cited incidents was the location. Ultimately, the court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to establish that it was reasonably foreseeable that the other driver would slam into the plaintiff with her vehicle in front of law enforcement.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Georgia Parking Lot?
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or died because of another’s negligence, contact the Georgia personal injury attorneys at Christopher Simon, Attorney at Law. The attorneys at our office have extensive experience handling an array of Georgia car accident cases. We have successfully represented clients in complicated civil claims stemming from Georgia motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, defective products, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. Our attorneys provide clients and the civil justice system with respect, ensuring that our clients get the compensation they deserve. Contact our office at 866-295-8231 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.