I Was Assaulted at a Bar; Can I Sue for Damages?

Bar Fight LiabilityEven though fights are known to frequently break out in bars where there is loud music, many people with different personalities, and alcohol, no one deserves to be physically assaulted in any way while at a local business.

When speaking with your attorney, you will likely explain what happened, who hurt or assaulted you, where the bar is located, and what you hope to achieve by filing a lawsuit. Once your attorney learns this information, they will be able to provide legal advice about what you should do to get the compensation you need to get back on your feet again.

What is a negligent security claim?

The most likely path forward is through a negligent security claim, a type of premises liability claim. Premises liability is a legal doctrine that essentially says property owners are responsible for keeping their guests and patrons safe from harm – or offering reasonable warnings about potential risks.

A negligent security claim alleges that the bar owner/manager failed to provide the proper security and protection for its guests and customers. Examples of these failure can include:

  • Not hiring enough security/bouncers
  • Not training security personnel
  • Not cutting off patrons who have had too much to drink
  • Failing to install adequate lighting in the building or outside of it (like in parking lots)
  • Failing to install security cameras in or around the building
  • Violations or any local ordinances designed to reduce assaults or acts of violence (like allowing groups of people to gather outside the bar, even if they’re not patrons)
  • Actively encouraging acts of violence or assault

Patrons vs employees: does the perpetrator matter?

Most negligent security claims involving bar fights are the result of a dust up between two patrons – but what if it’s an employee who attacks you?

If you are assaulted by an employee of the bar, you can still file a negligent security lawsuit. Employers are liable for their employees’ actions through the theory of vicarious liability. Basically, that means that if the bar employee was working at the time he or she assaulted you, then the bar is legally responsible for him or her. Even if the employee wasn’t working, the car can still be held liable. After all, the security team still didn’t protect you.

Can you sue your attacker personally?

Yes, you can sue someone for assaulting you. You can also talk to the cops about pressing charges against them. Criminal cases and civil cases are different and handled by different courts. We just want you to know you can do both.

Challenges that can arise in a negligent security lawsuit

With every type of claim or lawsuit, you may experience difficulties and challenges. But when the case involves a physical altercation, the finger pointing can be pretty extreme. This is especially true if you defended yourself from the attack. The most common challenges allege that:

  • You started the fight.
  • You provoked an argument, which led to the assault.
  • You were just as much involved in the fight or altercation as the other person.
  • The employee, bouncer, or bartender was in the middle of doing their job, and you would not leave when asked.
  • You are overexaggerating what happened to ensure that it fits your narrative.
  • You weren’t actually injured.
  • The fight occurred off premises.

We know this can be frustrating, but rest assured: Carmody and Ging is here to help. Our Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers have handled some of the toughest cases there are. We know what it takes to prove someone else’s actions hurt you.

What you should know about self-defense

Self-defense is a criminal defense theory, not really a civil legal theory. But that doesn’t mean it can’t help you in your claim for damages. If you were physically assaulted or attacked and you fought back, you were acting in self-defense. The same is true if, say, someone comes up and tries to grab your wallet off the bar, or touches your partner’s body and he or she is scared of further attacks.

Understanding how “excessive force” can affect your case

Generally speaking, you should be able to seek compensation for your injuries from a bar fight as long as you didn’t start it. But how you reacted can affect your claim, too. For example, if someone bumps your shoulder while crossing the room (even aggressively), and you smash a beer bottle and then slice that person’s arm with broken glass? That’s pretty excessive. The same is true if someone swings at you and you pull a knife or gun and stab/shoot them. At that point, it won’t matter if your jaw broke; your excessive use of force can harm your injury claim.

Like self-defense, “use of excessive force” is more of a criminal defense issue – but it can still affect your case.

Examples of evidence that support your side of the story

One of the key steps to pursuing a successful negligent security case is to collect the proper evidence supporting your side of the story. Here is some of the proof we’ll use on your behalf:

  • Eyewitness and expert witness statements
  • Police reports
  • Surveillance/ video footage
  • Photographs
  • Medical records
  • Documents showing past assaults, fights, or incidents at the same bar

At Carmody and Ging, our Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers take bar assaults very seriously. If you are ready to get legal help and pursue compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and lost income, please call our office or submit our contact form today. We offer free case reviews in our office in Pittsburgh, making it convenient for those around the area to get the help that they need.