Appellate Court Addresses Third-Party Criminal Actions In Georgia Premises Liability Case

Property owners and business owners may be liable for injuries or other damages caused by third parties committing criminal acts against members of the public who have been invited onto their property. A recently released decision by the Court of Appeals of Georgia addresses the standards for pursuing a Georgia personal injury lawsuit against a property owner for injuries suffered by a lawful invitee to the premises as a result of the unlawful conduct of a third party.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case is a truck driver who had parked his truck in a lot owned by the defendant as part of an agreement between the defendant and the plaintiff’s employer. The plaintiff woke up in the middle of the night by a man who was parked against his truck and attempting to break-in. The plaintiff opened his door and stepped onto the other man’s truck. The other driver attempted to drive away from the attempted robbery, causing the plaintiff to fall under the moving truck and get run over, which resulted in serious injuries to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff sued the defendant property owner, alleging that the parking lot was supposed to be secure, and that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to protect him from any intervening criminal acts committed by third parties. Before trial, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment against the plaintiff, which was granted by the trial court, which determined as a matter of law that the criminal act was not foreseeable to the defendant, and therefore no cause of action existed.

The Court of Appeals of Georgia disagreed with the trial court’s reasoning and reversed the summary judgment ruling. The appellate court found that there had been several thefts and other crimes on the premises before the plaintiff was injured, including break-ins to trucks parked in the same lot where the plaintiff was parked. The court determined that under Georgia law, a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would take ordinary precautions to protect invitees from such crimes. By finding that the type of crime that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries was reasonably foreseeable, and the appellate court ordered that the plaintiff’s case presented an issue that must be taken to trial.

Georgia premises liability and personal injury lawsuits can be challenging to prove, especially when intervening third parties are involved. A failure to understand the elements and requirements of a valid claim from the outset of a case can prevent a deserving party from obtaining the recovery they deserve. Any person who is injured by the negligence of another on public or private property should consult with a qualified Georgia personal injury attorney to determine if they have a claim for damages

Are You Entitled to Compensation?

If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligent or criminal conduct of another, you may be entitled to compensation either from the negligent party, or possibly the owner of the property where the injury occurred. The Atlanta premises liability attorneys at McAleer Law are qualified and experienced to handle your case with the diligence and care that you deserve. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation to determine if you may be entitled to damages as a result of your injuries. If you have been injured, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.