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Can I Sue After a Bar Fight?

Posted July 9, 2018 | Personal Injury Blog

Alcohol has a great deal of social prominence throughout the United States, but alcohol consumption can easily lead to conflict and even violence at times. When a bar fight occurs, anyone injured in the scuffle may wonder about legal options. If you suffer a serious injury from a bar fight that you did not start, then you likely have several options for recovery. First, the assailant will be liable for assault, battery, and any other criminal actions he or she committed. The victim can also pursue a civil claim against the assailant after consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer in Salt Lake City. However, the bar, nightclub, restaurant, or venue where the fight occurred may also absorb some liability.

Understanding Dram Shop Laws

“Dram shop law” refers to the regulations in place concerning an establishment’s liability for the actions of patrons when alcohol is involved. Since alcohol is inherently dangerous, establishments that serve alcohol as a business have a duty of care to do so safely and in compliance with state and local laws. Serving an obviously intoxicated patron would be a violation of this duty of care, as would letting an obviously intoxicated patron leave the establishment with the intention of driving anywhere.

The establishment’s alcohol serving policies and security would come into question in a dram shop law case. If the evidence shows that an establishment employee continued to serve alcohol to a patron past a reasonable point, and that patron caused the claimant’s injuries, then the establishment would absorb liability for the claimant’s damages along with the assailant.

First Steps After Suffering a Bar Fight Injury

In many cases, a bar fight will lead to a call to police, so you should expect to provide the responding officers with a statement as to your version of events. As long as you did not start the fight and evidence and/or witnesses can confirm this, you should not face arrest. Even if the police do not show up, you should report the injury to the establishment management as soon as possible. Don’t wait longer than the next day to report the injury. Although failing to report a bar fight injury doesn’t technically bar you from seeking compensation through a civil action, it will cast doubt on your claims when it comes to insurance investigators and jurors if your claim proceeds to trial.

Retaining an attorney is a very good decision after suffering an injury in a bar fight. Your attorney can handle correspondence with insurance companies, gather evidence to support your claim, and help locate documentation that proves the extent of your damages. If an insurance company reduces or denies a claim, your attorney can help you secure a more acceptable settlement or explore alternative options for recovery. Your attorney can also subpoena witnesses and evidence to help prove the bar or nightclub’s liability.

Damages and Compensation

A bar fight can result in severe personal injuries, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, bruises, internal organ damage, and more. The assailant who caused your injuries will face liability under intentional tort laws and the state will handle his or her criminal prosecution. Your civil claim against the assailant and the establishment that negligently served him or her alcohol will likely run in tandem with the state’s criminal case.

Succeeding in a lawsuit against an establishment in violation of dram shop laws can yield compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and property damage resulting from the fight. The state may also require your assailant to pay you punitive damages. Finding the right attorney after any bar fight-related injury will help maximize your recovery, so find an attorney with a strong track record of success in dram shop law cases.

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Text edited by Mitchell Fielding, a personal injury lawyer and partner at Fielding Law. Mitchell is known for his hard work ethic, friendly personality and dedication to the law. You can find out personal injury law offices in Taylorsville, UT and Mesquite, TX.