Foreseeability in premises liability lawsuits

On Behalf of | May 4, 2021 | Blog, Personal Injury |

Premises liability lawsuits in Georgia and around the country are usually filed by individuals who suffered injuries in an accident because a building owner or occupier failed to address a dangerous condition that they knew about or should have known about. This kind of litigation may also be initiated by people who were the victims of crimes committed by third parties. This is because liability in these cases is based on the legal theory of foreseeability.


What is known as the foreseeability test is performed in personal injury lawsuits to determine whether the defendant should have realized that their actions could cause the plaintiff injury, loss or damage. Defendants can be held responsible for injuries caused by a condition that they were unaware of if the jury determines that a reasonable and diligent person would have known about it. When property owners or occupiers are sued by crime victims, plaintiffs may seek to establish foreseeability by introducing crime reports or other records. However, this type of evidence may be unconvincing if the previous crimes that occurred at the location in question are not substantially similar to the crime that injured the plaintiff.

Substantially similar

A landmark case dealing with foreseeability in premises liability lawsuits was decided by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1991. Several students sued a college in Savanna after they were sexually assaulted. They attempted to establish foreseeability by introducing records showing that the campus previously had problems with peeping toms, intoxicated people, burglars and vagrants. The justices rejected this argument because none of the prior incidents were substantially similar to the students’ cause of action.

Preparing premises liability lawsuits

When they prepare premises liability lawsuits on behalf of crime victims, experienced personal injury attorneys may anticipate foreseeability issues and take steps to deal with them. Attorneys may check police reports and court documents for similar incidents at the property in question and nearby properties. They might also gather evidence to support arguments alleging that the security measures in place were not adequate and created a situation that placed visitors or guests in danger.