Can Bars be Held Liable for Bar Fights?

Posted on: August 18, 2021 by RMS Hospitality

Generally, bars are places of relaxation and camaraderie, where friends can meet and socialize while having a drink. Many people enjoy meeting up after work or gathering at the weekend or on holidays, and bars are favored destinations. Alcohol, however, can create unpredictable outcomes. Drinking establishments can provide circumstances and an environment that makes it easy for some people, when drinking, to become aggressive.

In a sports bar, for example, fans of each competing team may decide to transform the competition they are watching on television into personal belligerence. Should hostilities explode into violence, somebody could get hurt. Can bars be held legally responsible for bar fights and any ensuing injuries?

Bar Liability

If someone is injured in a bar fight, that individual can sue the drinking establishment. Certain conditions must be met for a claim to be considered legally viable, but bar owners should be aware of this risk. Carrying a comprehensive sports bar insurance program is a smart, proactive decision by bar  managers and owners. Whether an individual is actively engaging in a fight or is a non-participating bystander who gets punched or is injured by a glass projectile, bar liability can put an establishment at risk for a financially crippling lawsuit.

Common Grounds for Bar Liability

A patron who wishes to sue a drinking establishment after a violent incident must prove negligence on two specific points:

  • the sports bar or other drinking establishment did not keep its legal duty to reasonably protect patrons from harm; and
  • this negligence resulted in the injuries suffered.

The grounds for lawsuits can play out in multiple ways. Plaintiffs may clam the establishment violated dram shop laws by serving or continuing to serve noticeably intoxicated persons. Plaintiffs can also claim that a bar did not provide reasonable security for patrons. A solid sports bar insurance program backed by industry experts can offer proactive tips for reducing risks.

Reducing Legal Liability

The legal validity of these claims depends on a variety of circumstances, including the establishment’s reputation. If a bar or nightclub has a reputation for fights and drug use, for example, taking  precautions can reduce legal liability, including:

  • Hiring numerous bouncers
  • Hiring an off-duty police officer
  • Using plastic or paper cups to avoid injuries from glass projectiles
  • Securing stools, tables, and chairs to the floor

Another important way to reduce legal liability is to be scrupulous with statutes on alcohol sales. For example, establishments can take care to avoid serving minors alcohol, cut down on hours of operation, and avoid the use of promotional campaigns such as two-for-one drinks and happy hour discounts.

Bar owners and managers should work with a specialist in the field of hospitality insurance. By taking measures to decrease the chances of violence, they can breathe easy and patrons can safely have a good time.

About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (888) 359-8390.

Posted in: Sports Bar Insurance

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