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The Element of Foreseeability in Georgia Personal Injury Cases

Before a defendant can be held liable for the injuries they caused to another person, the injured party must prove their case against the defendant. In cases that alleged that the defendant was negligent, this requires the plaintiff to prove four elements:  duty, breach, causation, and damages. A plaintiff’s failure to prove any one of these elements will be fatal to the plaintiff’s case.

Intersection at NightThe element of duty is often a simple one to establish, and it requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant owed them some duty of care. In many cases, this issue is conceded by the defense. However, that will not always be the case, especially in premises liability cases.

Breach is often where much of the litigation takes place in personal injury cases. Essentially, the breach element requires a judge to determine if the defendant violated the duty of care owed to the plaintiff. One aspect of the breach element is foreseeability. In other words, were the plaintiff’s injuries a foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct?

A Recent Example of a Court’s Foreseeability Analysis

In a recent case out of Nebraska, a court determined that a defendant bar owner did not breach the duty he owed to a patron when that patron was struck by the car of another man who was recently kicked out of the bar. In the case, Pittman v. Rivera, the defendant was kicked out of the bar earlier in the night for being aggressive and assaultive toward his girlfriend, who was an employee of the establishment. Initially, the man left with a friend, who was a designated driver, but he came back a few hours later, driving his own vehicle.

At some point in the evening, the plaintiff was outside talking with friends when the man who had previously been kicked out returned to speak with his girlfriend. He was denied entrance by the bar’s staff and became angry. He got into his car, and while driving in an aggressive manner, struck the plaintiff.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the bar, arguing that the bar owners breached the duty of care they owed him and that they should be held liable for his injuries. However, the court disagreed based on the fact that the plaintiff’s injuries were not a foreseeable result of the bar owner kicking out the angry driver. The court explained that there was no indication that the men knew each other, or that any of the man’s anger was directed toward the plaintiff. The court ultimately determined that the bar owner could not have reasonably foreseen that the man they kicked out would get into his vehicle and strike a patron. Because of this ruling, the plaintiff’s case against the bar will not be permitted to proceed. However, the plaintiff’s case against several other parties still remains intact.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Georgia car accident or other harmful event, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As noted above, these cases often turn on small details that may not be seemingly important early on in the process. A dedicated attorney at Miller Legal Services is available to consult with you about the facts of your case and can help you highlight any potentially relevant facts. Call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Settlement Reached for Four of Five Families in Fatal 2015 Georgia Trucking Accident, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2016.

Splitting Up Fault in Georgia Personal Injury Cases, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 23, 2016.