It's a common misconception that a person who was an active participant in a bar fight is not entitled to compensation for injuries they sustained in that fight. While actual statistics are impossible to gather due to the vast number of unreported bar and nightclub fights, one thing is for certain -- there are high instances of violence at places where people go to drink alcohol.
The Responsibilities Of A Bar Owner
The owner of the bar that you were injured at welcomed you as an invitee. As his or her invitee, you should expect that the bar owner took every reasonable precaution to protect you from being harmed while on their property. Knowing that their establishment is prone to violence, protecting you means a little bit more than salting the walkways and putting out a wet floor sign. Here are four ways in which the bar or nightclub owner may have been liable for your injuries.
Not Hiring Enough Security Staff -- The number of security personnel a bar should have working varies by the nature of the bar. In quieter establishments that see little violence, you may have a difficult time proving that the place was understaffed at the time of your injury. In busier, more known-for-violence places, though, it can be quite obvious to see that one or two bouncers were staffed when there should have been nine or ten.
Premise Liability -- In bars and nightclubs where violence is extremely common, the owners of the buildings are expected to make sure that there is no makeshift weaponry available to raging patrons. The law that governs this responsibility is called premise liability, and in a bar atmosphere, it can mean quite a lot of things. In violence-prone bars or nightclubs, the chairs should be screwed to the floor, there shouldn't be any knives lying around, and drinks should be served in plastic cups to prevent glasses or bottles from being smashed over somebody's head.
Over-Serving -- The owner of the bar you were injured at should have employed a bartender who is capable of telling when their customers have had too much alcohol and willing to tell those customers that they will not be served any more drinks. If you or the person who injured you was clearly drunk well before the incident, but was continually served up until the time you were injured, the bar owner may be liable for your injuries.
After-Hour Sales -- Each state has their own laws regarding the hours during which bars and nightclubs can serve alcohol. If you were injured after-hours and the bar or nightclub you were at was still serving alcohol at that time, the bar owner is very likely responsible for your injuries.
But, The Owner Of The Bar Wasn't Even There
It's true that the owner of the bar or nightclub that you were harmed at is not the only person responsible for your injuries. The person who physically injured you, of course, played a role, as well as the bartender and/or other staff who were on duty at the time of the incident.
You could attempt to get compensation from the person who injured you, but there's a very good possibility that they've got nothing to give you. If you think this might be the case, you're better off focusing your attention on the other liable parties.
The owner of the bar or nightclub is, by law, responsible for the actions of his or her employees. They chose to hire the bartender and leave them in charge, or chose to hire the person who hired the bartender and left them in charge. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to make sure that their business runs smoothly and to protect you from the moment you enter the establishment to the time that you leave.
Bar and nightclub owners have several precautions they must take in order to protect you while you're in their establishment. If they fail to take these precautions, they could be liable for any injuries you sustain while there. Contact a personal injury attorney to help you go over the circumstances of your bar fight and determine whether or not you have a case against the owner of the bar you were injured at.
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