A few nightclubs and bars are quiet spaces where nobody ever raises voice, and unnecessary fights are unheard of. However, others unluckily are hotbeds for fights and arguments almost every night.
What if you’re attacked in a nightclub or bar or what if, by chance, you get thrown a bottle or hit by a fist? Who is responsible? Is the premise legally responsible to you? This article addresses premises liability law in these situations.
The Attacker is Commonly Liable
Let us get one thing clear. Assuming that you didn’t commence the fight or that it wasn’t an agreed upon fight (“mutual affray”), the individual who hit you will be liable for your injuries under the intentional tort law.
On the other hand, because individuals who pick a fight in bars or nightclubs may not have insurance or any money, it may not worth it to sue the assailant for the attack; you might like to center your energy on filing a case against the nightclub or bar.
Negligence in the General Premises Liability Law
Suing a nightclub or bar for damages due to assault or fight is a standard injury case, meaning that it’s a negligence case. An exception is that, as previously described, if the fight was agreed upon (mutual affray) in which case, generally, the bar or nightclub will not be negligent.
To succeed in a case against a bar or nightclub, you need to establish that the premises were negligent—that its negligence resulted in your injury. However, let’s say that it was another party who attacked you, how do you prove that?
Claims against nightclubs or bars in fight incidents typically involve an intoxicated attacker and so will typically involve the alcohol service and security policies of the premises.
All bars or nightclub have a responsibility to act sensibly to provide required security for their clients, and all bars or nightclubs have a responsibility not to serve drunk customers.
With regard to security, a bar or nightclub should offer whatever security is rationally necessary, according to the circumstances. A bar or nightclub that caters mainly to senior citizens drinking before entering the theater does not require any security.
Nobody will start fights in that kind of premises. However, a bar notorious for arguments, fights, and illegal drug use requires stricter and firmer security measures.
For instance, reasonable security in such premises might take in things such as serving drinks in plastic or Styrofoam cups (to inhibit thrown bottles or bottles smashed over somebody’s head), having numerous bouncers, employing an off-duty cop to observe the bar, or tightly securing the chairs and tables to the floor.
Regarding alcohol use, a nightclub or bar has an obligation (dram shop laws) to monitor its customers closely to ensure that it doesn’t serve alcohol to drunk customers. “Dram shop law” is the term for a law that has to do with cases due to injuries caused by individuals who bought intoxicating drinks at restaurants or bars.
If somebody gets drunk and assaults you at a bar, nightclub, or on the street, then you could file a claim against that premise.