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Contending the Issue of Liability When You’re Seriously Hurt in A Bar Fight

The Scenario:  There you were having a couple of drinks out on the town and enjoying a good time with friends, when suddenly a bar fight erupts.  Out of nowhere, you find yourself caught in the very dangerous crossfire of punches being thrown, broken bottles flying through the air, and trampling security guards storming onto the scene. You did nothing to provoke an injury, yet your night of fellowship and fun ended at the emergency room.  If this describes your unfortunate situation you may be able to seek damages for your injuries.

Whether you were cut by broken glass, tripped, kicked, pushed, punched, stabbed or suffered a serious injury from the use of any other dangerous weapon by an unruly patron you may have a claim for personal injuries suffered.  But perhaps, you were a victim of the excessive force used by a poorly trained bouncer who misappropriated the handling of a hostile and dangerous situation involving you- an innocent bystander.  The specific details of each of these circumstances could determine whether your claim was not only against the assailant but also against the establishment where you received the injury.

It’s easy to start pointing fingers and parsing out blame when you’re saddled with questions like “Who’s going to pay for my medical bills and necessary future treatment? Will I be compensated for my lost time at work?” and “What about my emotional trauma?” The most important thing you can do when something like this happens is to first talk to an attorney to ensure that you take the right steps to establishing a claim against another party.  As determining liability can be very tricky.

Who’s Liable?  Assuming that you were just an “innocent bystander” and that you in no way started the fight and/or in no way agreed to the fight (what the law calls “mutual affray”), then the person who attacked you or harmed in you during his/her attack/actions taken to assault another person; is liable to you under what is called intentional tort principles. But unfortunately, not all folks that start fights in bars are worth the legal retaliation on your part.  Most people don’t have money or insurance to seek damages against; so ultimately it may not be worth it for you to bring a lawsuit against the assailant.  You may win in court but if that person does not have savings or sizeable assets to seize you might not receive a dime.

Instead of adding insult to injury, in situations like this, it is more appropriate to sue the bar or nightclub.  Seeking damages against an establishment for being hurt on their premises due to their negligence is what is called Premises Liability and falls within the scope of general personal injury cases.

If the negligence of the bar or nightclub led to you suffer injuries, you will have to be prepared to prove it.  Did the bar over serve the belligerent and violent patron? Did they not quickly diffuse a situation and instead allowed it to escalate?  Was the contracted security staff very poorly hired and trained?  Did they leave broken glass on the floor for an extended period of time?  All businesses where alcohol is being served have a duty train their employees to act reasonably to provide necessary security for their patrons.

The type of bar and the type of patrons it attracts should determine how strict or lax the rules and policies are by which it operates.  If a bar is known for loud, mean, out of hand crowds, has documented past incidents involving drug use, and threats or assault;  than surely the policies and procedures should be stricter and evolve to counteract that type of behavior for the safety of its customers.  An establishment may be found negligent when someone is seriously hurt because of their bar or nightclub’s lack of reasonable care in taking appropriate counter measures to mitigate these activities.

An example of taking appropriate actions on behalf of a bar or night club might include, hiring parking lot security when crowds tend to migrate and loiter in the parking lot after hours, switching to plastic instead of glass beer bottles when fights using bottles have taken place in the past, periodically retraining bouncers and staff about how to deal with emergencies.

Hiring the Right Personal Injury Attorney is Imperative.  If you’ve been suffered an injury in a bar fight that was no fault of your own, you need an experienced personal injury attorney that can gather evidence fast and help build your case to prove not only your injuries but who should pay you for what you’ve gone through.  We have the years of experience in and out of the courtroom to bring the liable parties out of the woodwork, to make them listen and pay for your medical expenses and pain and suffering.   Helping injury victims is all we do. We fight for you.  Give us a call for a free case evaluation, (615) 425-2500.