If an insurance company’s customer is sued for negligence, the insurance carrier fights hard in court to keep its funds securely locked away from the injured party. To be fair, it is their job to protect the client, but in truth, they are often just protecting their own coffers since it is from their deep pockets that the plaintiff’s award will come.
Sadly, some insurance companies fight so mercilessly that the law can become distorted. Sometimes the arguments they submit to the court and the jury twist and stretch the letter of the law so thoroughly that the spirit of the law cannot be recognized. Here is an example – you be the judge.
Piggly Wiggly Dark Parking Lot Stabbing
In the case of Piggly Wiggly Southern, Inc. v. Snowden; and vice versa, 219 Ga. App. (148) (1995), a woman leaves the grocery store on a dark, rainy night. The parking lot is unlit. In the darkness an attacker stabbed, beat, robbed, and assaulted the woman sexually. She suffers both physical and emotional injuries. She sues the grocery store.
The defense requests the judge to enter a directed verdict in favor of Piggly Wiggly. (A directed verdict is one that is handed down by the judge alone and not remanded to the jury for consideration.) Since no identical crimes to the plaintiff’s had happened in the parking lot, the grocery store claimed that the business had no obligation to protect its customers unless the very same kind of crime had occurred previously, making such a crime ‘foreseeable.”
They also believe they are entitled to a directed verdict because the plaintiff should have known that the unlit parking lot was dangerous. (One wonders how a crime can be unforeseeable for the business involved, but not for the victim.)
In court, the jury finds in favor of the injured plaintiff and awards the woman $800,000.
The Hidden Information To Attempt to Protect the Profits
Interestingly, witnesses including two of the store’s management staff testified that the parking lot was very unsafe. So unsafe, in fact, that there had previously been 17 purse snatchings. Male employees regularly walked female employees to their cars after work because of the risks involved. They had even requested that the store hire security guards to combat the safety concerns for both customers and employees.
On appeal, the Court found that the crimes previously committed in the store’s parking lot were sufficiently similar to render the crimes related to the plaintiff foreseeable. The court also ruled that the plaintiff’s ‘gut feeling’ of danger did not constitute a complete understanding or knowledge of danger, thus eliminating the requirement to issue a directed verdict.
We don’t suggest here that the insurance company did anything illegal. We simply hope to demonstrate that the law can be a mine-field of misdirection. Getting to justice can be very challenging. If you are up against a big insurance company or Corporation with pockets full of money – you need a great legal team on your side!
If you have been injured by somebody’s negligence, you must be prepared for a long, frustrating fight. It’s critical that your attorneys know all there is to know about personal injury law. Pick specialists like the personal injury lawyers at the firm of The Millar Law Firm. We only do personal injury cases, and we do them very, very well. Call us today for a free case review.