You’re out at night with your friends; drinks are pouring and people become more bold and aggressive, as they do. There’s pushing and yelling, and in the end somebody is hurt. We understand; sometimes things happen that we don’t expect, and we cannot control the actions of others. We all like to go out and have a good time, but sometimes things can get out of hand despite our best intentions.
What happens, then, when you get hurt at a bar? Who is responsible? What are your options?
The responsibility of the venue
Patrons at a pub, club, or bar are legally under the protection of the establishment. They are considered invited guests, and it’s up to the pub to ensure the safety of its patrons. This means that if you’re injured, the bar may be liable for some of the associated damages. The bar is required to ensure that they have taken reasonable precautions against the injury of their customers.
‘Reasonable’ measures can vary from establishment to establishment. A local pub, frequented by regulars and neighbours, probably won’t have staff and bouncers spread around the room keeping an eye on things. The chances of trouble are much smaller in these types of venues.
A popular nightclub, however, will have bouncers and security spread throughout, as the intermingling of intoxicated people can often result in fighting and injury. The person found liable may depend on the situation, type of establishment, and the people involved. The injury doesn’t have to occur indoors, either, for the establishment or security team to be held liable. There have been large payouts made in Australia to victims who were assaulted outside of a pub or club while bouncers looked on. Judges have found that since the incidents began on bar premises, the bouncers were obliged to continue preventing the fight, even after those involved had left the property.
What do I do if I’ve been injured?
There are several things you need to do after being injured to ensure that you have enough evidence to demonstrate that your injury was a result of someone else’s negligence. First off, as soon as you are injured, it is important to notify the most senior staff member at the establishment. If you are unable then get a friend to do so. If the owner is there, find and speak to them. If not, find the highest ranking manager. They should document all the details of what you have told them, as should you as soon as possible. Luckily the majority of us have smartphones these days, and keeping notes is simple. It’s especially important to do this if the bouncers or bar staff themselves were involved with the cause of injury.
If you feel as though you have been wronged, call the police. They will have more ability to question witnesses and find out what happened from other sources. All of the information will be documented on the police report, which will be gathered and presented more professionally than had you compiled one yourself. Make sure to tell police your story in detail, and point them in the direction of any witnesses who can corroborate it. It is very important to be truthful and honest to officers, as even a small mistake in accuracy can hold you unreliable. The easiest way to not make mistakes is to tell the truth! Make sure your friends all know this as well, so they don’t exaggerate or make false claims.
Take photos of your injuries to have a record. As mentioned earlier, most of us have smartphones these days so snapping a photo as soon as you’re able to should be easy. Make sure the date and time stamp are activated for more legitimacy. Some injuries may take several days to appear, so take photos for the next few days to document this. If you are admitted to hospital, make sure that all injuries are noted on your chart, as these can be used for evidence as well.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you should always drink responsibly when going out. This alone could save you many headaches (both literally and figuratively). If you did, for example, get in a pub fight, it would be much harder to remember the details accurately than if you were intoxicated. You may also lose credibility if you had had a few too many drinks. Besides, if you were drinking responsibly it would be easier to avoid a fight in the first place! Enjoying a few drinks with friends is fine, so long as you take caution and be safe.
In the end, especially if you have a more serious injury, it’s best to consult with a personal injury lawyer. They know the law better than you do, and will be able to ascertain whether your case has merit. It’s very important to provide them with all of that information you have gathered so they can determine the best course of action.