In Florida, tourists and locals flock to bars and nightclubs when the sun goes down. The nightlife in Florida is exceptionally popular, which makes a large majority of these public venues overcrowded. While people go to these locales to enjoy themselves, there are those that may drink too much or simply go with the intention of starting trouble. For this reason, fights are not uncommon in these Florida establishments. Those involved in these fights – and even innocent bystanders – can encounter serious injuries from bar fights, including facial lacerations, broken limbs, and even traumatic brain injuries.
Those injured in bar fights may have a legal basis for a personal injury claim against the assailant as well as the bar owner or bar staff. However, not all bar fights result in personal injury claims.
When you are injured during a bar fight, you will need to determine who was responsible for that fight in order to collect damages. Just some damages you may encounter include medical costs, hospital bills, medicines, lost wages, or even permanent disability – depending on the severity of your injuries.
The underlying circumstances of the bar altercation and how the owner or their employees responded will determine liability. Under the legal doctrine of premises liability, the bar owner has a responsibility to their patrons to provide a safe environment free from harm.
The Legal Doctrine of Premises Liability
Under Florida Statute 83.51, landlords and property owners have an obligation to maintain their premises and are responsible for any injuries that occur on them.
Bar patrons, for example, are invitees under the legal doctrine. As invitees of the establishment, these patrons have the legal right to stay safe from harm or injury while on the premises. This includes the bar, the parking lot areas, and any other property that the bar owner legally presides over. It is important to note, however, that not all injuries on the bar property automatically result in a claim against the bar owner.
Under the statute, bar owners must do everything within reason to ensure a safe property for their invitees. The law is unclear as to what is “reasonable;” instead the law must weigh the instance of injury to determine if the bar owner did or did not do everything that was “reasonably” possible to protect the invitee from harm.
To prove premises liability, the injured invitee must prove that the bar owner could foresee the potential injury and did nothing to prevent it. For example, the bar is located in a high crime area and is therefore more likely to have bar fights and other altercations on the property. The bar owner knows that the preponderance of fights is higher for their property, but they fail to hire security or an adequate amount of security personnel to prevent this. In this case, the owner is guilty of negligent security and is liable for any injuries, since they knew the risks and failed to take action.
Proving an Injury Claim After a Bar Fight
The plaintiff must prove that the attacker or bar owner is responsible for their injuries. Proving the liability of an attacker is much simpler than placing blame on the bar owner. In order to succeed with a negligent security or premise liability claim, a plaintiff must prove:
- The bar owner had a legal obligation to protect invitees from injury or harm.
- The bar owner could foresee the potential injury that occurred.
- The bar owner breached their duty of care by not taking action to prevent that injury.
- The bar owner’s breach of duty resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries and losses.
Injured in a Bar Fight? Contact Hancock Injury Attorneys for a Case Evaluation
Determining liability and pursuing negligent security claims requires the assistance of an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. Attorney Mike Hancock understands the complexities of negligent security claims and can assist you with your case. To explore your legal options, call 813-915-1110 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a consultation.