How to Sue a Bar for Negligence

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Terry Crouppen who has more than 40 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.

BY
Brown & Crouppen

Key Takeaways: 

  • Bar owners are legally responsible for ensuring the safety of their customers, and victims of accidents or violence in bars can seek compensation.
  • Common causes of injuries in bars include bar fights, negligent security, unsafe environments, and food or alcohol poisoning.
  • Dram shop laws define the liability of bars for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals or minors, allowing victims to sue for injuries caused by such patrons.
  • Proving a bar’s negligence involves demonstrating a duty of care, breach of that duty, direct causation of harm, foreseeability of harm, and actual damages incurred.
  • Hiring an experienced attorney, like those at Brown & Crouppen, can help victims navigate complex legal issues, gather evidence, and effectively pursue a negligence claim against a bar.

Bar owners have a legal duty to protect their customers from foreseeable harm. Accordingly, you may be entitled to compensation if you get injured at a bar, whether through a slip and fall accident or a bar fight. However, you may wonder how to sue a bar for negligence. Brown & Crouppen’s experienced personal injury lawyers are here to explain your full legal rights and options.

Bar owners have a duty to protect their customers from harm on their premises. Accordingly, you may be able to sue for compensation if you were hurt at a bar, whether due to a slip and fall accident or a drunken brawl. If you or a loved one has been injured at a bar, contact the experienced bar or nightclub liability lawyers at Brown & Crouppen to learn about your full legal rights and options. 

Founded by Ron Brown and Terry Crouppen, Brown & Crouppen seeks justice for people who have been injured at little to no fault of their own. We have a team of over 250 legal professionals ready to handle your case from start to finish. Let us put our extensive experience and deep legal knowledge to work for you. 

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Missouri and the Midwest. Do not wait to take legal action.

Situations in Bars That Can Cause Injuries

Though bars and nightclubs are places of entertainment, they are not immune to accidents. Often, these situations are fueled by alcohol consumption. But that is not the only factor that may lead to accidents. Common scenarios that lead people to sue bars include:

  • Bar fights – Bar fights involving patrons or bouncers can lead to injuries. If this has happened to you, you could have a claim against the bar where the fight took place. Note that you do not have to be directly involved in the fight. You may still have a case if you were injured collaterally by a bar fight.
  • Negligent securityNegligent security may involve things like a lack of surveillance equipment, poorly maintained locks, and not having bouncers. All of these increase the likelihood of a violent crime taking place. If you sue a bar for negligent security and your lawsuit is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for your negligent security claim for physical injuries, emotional suffering, lost wages, and more.
  • Unsafe environments caused by negligence – Bar owners are supposed to provide a safe environment for customers. Accordingly, they may be liable for customer injuries caused by things like wet or uneven floors, poor lighting, blocked or locked emergency exits, over-aggressive bouncers, damaged or broken furniture, overcrowding, and broken glass.
  • Food and alcohol poisoning – Food and beverage vendors have a duty to make sure the products they sell are safe for consumption. Therefore, you may also have a case if you develop food or alcohol poisoning from a bar’s food and drinks.

If you are unsure whether you can sue a bar after an accident, contact experienced bar accident lawyers to learn more about your full legal rights and options.

Dram Shop Laws and Liability for Bar Owners

Injury victims often run across dram shop laws when researching how to sue a bar for negligence. “Dram shop” is an old-fashioned term for bars and other commercial establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. Though somewhat antique, the term is still used among lawyers.

Dram shop laws outline the liability of bars and other commercial establishments that serve alcohol. For example, in Missouri, the governing statute allows lawsuits:

“By or on behalf of any person who has suffered personal injury or death against any person licensed to sell intoxicating liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the seller (1) knew or should have known that intoxicating liquor was served to a person under the age of twenty-one years or  (2) knowingly served intoxicating liquor to a visibly intoxicated person.”

The statute further explains that intoxication is visible if a patron exhibits “significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction.” If you believe you have been hurt by someone who should not have been served alcohol at a bar, contact Brown & Crouppen. Our skilled personal injury lawyers can help determine the best course of legal action.

Proving a Bar Owner’s Negligence

To prove negligence in a dram shop case, you will likely need to establish the following elements:

  1. Duty of Care – Show that the establishment had a duty to serve alcohol responsibly, adhering to laws that prohibit serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors.
  2. Breach of Duty – Demonstrate that the establishment breached this duty.
  3. Causation – Establish a direct link between the breach of duty and the resulting harm. 
  4. Foreseeability – Prove that it was foreseeable that serving alcohol to an intoxicated person could result in harm.
  5. Damages – Provide evidence of actual damages resulting from the incident, like medical bills, lost wages, or property damage.

This typically involves gathering evidence such as witness statements, surveillance footage, receipts, expert testimony, and police reports. Legal representation is crucial, as dram shop cases can be complex and vary by jurisdiction.

Gathering Evidence for Your Bar Negligence Claim

If you are interested in filing a bar negligence claim, the burden is on you to prove the bar is responsible for your losses by proving that something is more likely than not. Important evidence may include:

  • Proof of Alcohol Sale – Receipts, credit card statements, or witness testimony confirming that the defendant establishment sold alcohol to the individual.
  • Evidence of Intoxication – Testimony from witnesses, video footage from the establishment, or statements from employees indicating that the individual was visibly intoxicated at the time of the alcohol sale.
  • Link Between Intoxication and Injury – Evidence that demonstrates a direct link between the individual’s intoxication and the resulting harm or injury. This could include accident reports, police reports, or medical records.
  • Establishment’s Policies and Training – Records of the establishment’s policies on serving alcohol and training provided to employees to establish whether they were in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
  • Licensing and Legal Compliance – Documentation showing the establishment’s liquor license and adherence to local alcohol-serving laws.
  • Expert Testimony – Experts in fields like toxicology or alcohol service practices can provide insights into the individual’s level of intoxication and the establishment’s role.
  • Footage of the Incident – Photographs and videos of the scene can be invaluable evidence, especially if it was caught by a surveillance camera.
  • Previous Incidents – Records of any prior incidents involving the establishment serving alcohol to intoxicated individuals, if applicable.

To improve your chances of receiving the compensation you are entitled to, gathering evidence as soon as possible after your injury is essential. Additionally, it is crucial to report the injury to the bar owner and contact the police if another customer or bouncer assaults you. Call 911 or ask someone else to call on your behalf if you require immediate medical attention.

What Damages Can I Receive Through a Lawsuit Against a Bar?

You can recover a wide variety of compensation if you prove a bar’s liability for your injuries and losses. Depending on the jurisdiction, you may be compensated for things like: 

  • Medical Expenses – Compensation for past and future medical treatment related to the injuries sustained due to the intoxicated person’s actions.
  • Lost Wages and Earning Capacity – If the injury has impacted your ability to work, you can claim lost wages for the time you were unable to work and any future loss of earning capacity.
  • Pain and Suffering – Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress caused by the incident. This is often a significant part of the damages in personal injury cases.
  • Property Damage – If any property was damaged as a result of the incident, you can seek compensation for repair or replacement.
  • Punitive Damages – In some cases, where the conduct of the bar is found to be particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.
  • Loss of Consortium – Compensation for the impact on your relationship with your spouse or family members due to the injury.
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses – In cases where the incident led to a fatality, the family of the deceased can seek damages for funeral and burial costs.
  • Legal Fees and Costs – In some jurisdictions, you might also be able to recover the costs associated with pursuing the lawsuit.

Talk to our bar accident lawyers to learn more about the damages you can receive. We will evaluate your case in a free consultation to give you an idea of how much your claim may be worth. 

Why Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Case?

If you are wondering how to sue a bar for negligence, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you secure high-quality legal representation, the sooner you can file your lawsuit in pursuit of the compensation you deserve. 

Our bar and nightclub liability lawyers in St. Louis can provide invaluable assistance in a bar accident lawsuit, which typically involves complex legal issues and requires a thorough understanding of dram shop laws. Here’s how an attorney can help:

  1. Case Evaluation – An attorney can evaluate the details of your case to determine its viability, including whether the bar can be held liable under dram shop laws.
  2. Gathering Evidence – Our lawyers have the resources and expertise to gather critical evidence, such as surveillance footage from the bar, witness statements, police reports, and medical records, to build a strong case.
  3. Expert Witnesses – Attorneys often work with expert witnesses in fields like toxicology, industry standards, and medical care to provide testimony that can strengthen your case.
  4. Navigating Legal Complexities – Dram shop laws vary by state, and an attorney can navigate these legal complexities, including statutes of limitations, liability standards, and specific state regulations.
  5. Negotiating with Insurance Companies – An experienced attorney can handle negotiations with the bar’s insurance company, aiming to secure a fair settlement that fully covers your damages.
  6. Representing in Court – If a fair settlement cannot be reached, an attorney can represent you in court, presenting your case to a judge or jury.
  7. Legal Strategy and Advice – An attorney can advise you on the best legal strategy for your case, including whether to settle or go to trial.
  8. Handling Paperwork and Legal Formalities – Lawsuits involve a significant amount of paperwork and strict adherence to procedural rules. An attorney can manage these aspects, ensuring that documents are filed correctly and deadlines are met.
  9. Quantifying Damages – Our lawyers can help accurately calculate the total damages you are owed, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other relevant costs.
  10. Protecting Your Rights – An attorney will work to protect your legal rights throughout the process and ensure you are treated fairly by all parties involved.

Book a Free Consultation with the Bar Lawyers at Brown & Crouppen

Brown & Crouppen is a full-service personal injury law firm, and our bar accident lawyers have what it takes to build a robust case against the establishment where you were injured. Our law firm is one of the largest in the Midwest, with offices throughout Missouri and beyond. We have obtained millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Let us put our extensive experience representing personal injury victims to work for you. 

Contact us today by calling (800) 536-4357 or filling out our online contact form. We offer free consultations, and you pay nothing unless we win your case.

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