California Court Finds Parking Lot Owner Not Liable for Aggressive Driver’s Actions

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California car accident case involving the aggressive actions of a third party and how they can affect a defendant’s liability. Ultimately, the court concluded that the unpredictable actions of a third party precluded a finding of liability, and it affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and his wife visited a taco truck that leased a parking lot from the defendant. When the plaintiff pulled into the parking lot, he noticed that it was very crowded and that there were no spaces to park. The plaintiff put the car in reverse and began to back out of the lot to find a parking spot elsewhere. However, as the plaintiff backed out, he collided with another vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle got out of the car and was visibly angry with the plaintiff. Despite the plaintiff’s apology, the other driver refused to exchange vehicle information with the plaintiff. Instead, the other driver got back in the car, put it in reverse, and sped out of the parking lot at a high rate of speed. In so doing, the other driver ran over the plaintiff and dragged him into the street, resulting in serious injuries.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the parking lot, claiming that the defendant’s failure to arrange for adequate parking and security resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. The defendant responded that any negligence on his part was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the other driver’s conduct was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The Court’s Analysis

The court began its analysis by noting that the primary question it had to answer was whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Without a duty of care, the defendant could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

In determining whether a duty exists, the court considered several factors, including:

  • The foreseeability of the harm to the plaintiff;
  • The degree of certainty that the plaintiff suffered harm;
  • The relationship between the defendant’s alleged negligence and the plaintiff’s injuries;
  • The moral blame of the defendant’s conduct;
  • The policy of preventing future harms; and
  • The extent of the burden placed on the defendant and the consequences of placing such a burden.

After weighing the factors, the court determined that the defendant did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care. The court acknowledged that several of the factors favored finding a duty, but ultimately, the court determined that the aggressive driving behavior of the at-fault driver was not something that was foreseeable to the defendant when he designed and leased the lot. As a result, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured on the property of another person or business, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a California premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated California personal injury lawyers at Sharifi Firm have decades of collective experience handling all types of California personal injury cases, including slip-and-fall accidents and other premises liability claims. To learn more, call 866-422-7222 to schedule your free consultation with an attorney.

More Blog Posts:

The Types of Available Damages in California Injury Claims, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, March 6, 2018

California Court Awards Additional Costs After Party Rejects Settlement and Loses at Trial, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, February 19, 2018

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