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Testing the Limits of Foreseeability in Road Rage Lawsuit

October 25, 2011

One of the fundamental elements that must be proven in a personal injury case under Georgia law is causation – a causal link between negligent, reckless or intentional conduct and the injuries suffered in an Atlanta personal injury lawsuit.

Sometimes the law does not impose liability; even when there is a causal link clearly established between the wrongful conduct and the resulting injuries. The issue is whether the causal chain of events is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the wrongful conduct. This is a significant issue in a recent lawsuit filed by a daughter against her father in a road rage incident in which the father was shot in the head.

This is admittedly an unusual lawsuit, but one that provides an excellent illustration of the issue of foreseeability as a factor in determining liability under Georgia personal injury law. A mother is suing on behalf of her daughter after the girl’s dad was shot in the head during a road rage incident in Philadelphia. The theory advanced by the girl’s attorneys in the road rage lawsuit is that when her father extended his middle finger to the other driver it was reasonably foreseeable that it might incite a road rage incident. The girl suffered severe emotional distress, and the lawsuit is seeking damages for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from her witnessing the shooting.

There are many questions that are left unanswered in the ABA Journal article that reported the lawsuit. Because the injuries to both the father and daughter were the result of an intentional criminal act and the shooter is serving a long sentence in state prison, it is reasonable to presume that the daughter needs to be able to recover against the father’s insurance or there may be no way to recover for her emotional injuries. The plaintiff in the case will presumably argue that the dad should not antagonize other drivers particularly with children in the vehicle.

While the theory may look far-fetched initially, the father suffering a gun shot in a road rage incident may be reasonably foreseeable so why would it be any less foreseeable that another occupant in the vehicle might be struck because the driver missed when he fired into the vehicle. While the intentional criminal act of a third party may constitute an “intervening cause” and make a potential injury unforeseeable, the question that must be answered in this case really is whether an act of road rage resulting in a shooting is a foreseeable response when flipping off another motorist. While at first blush this case may look far-fetched, it is perhaps a sad reality about the growth of road rage in our society that the trauma suffered by the girl might actually be found to be foreseeable.

If you or someone you love is injured in a road rage incident or you are an occupant in a vehicle of a close family member of a road rage incident, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we represent road rage victims in the metro Atlanta area and throughout Georgia. Our experienced Atlanta road rage injury attorneys have been representing road rage injury victims throughout Georgia for 27 years. We understand the financial hardship and emotional pain when you or a member of your family is a road rage victim. Our Atlanta accident lawyers diligently pursue our client’s best interest as part of our ongoing commitment to our goal of being known at the best Atlanta personal injury lawyers.

Our Atlanta accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.