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Suing For Personal Injuries Caused by a Bar Fight in Charlotte

Feb 28, 2018 Brown Moore Personal Injury

If you have been injured in a bar fight— or may be injured by the “bouncer” who got abusive— suing for personal injuries is an option depending on the circumstances. Bar fights can be violent and deadly. See here. And here. To start, however, you need to have been injured through no fault of your own. As we have criticized several occasions, North Carolina still applies the doctrine of strict contributory negligence. If the jury concludes you are even one percent at fault for your injuries caused in the bar fight or by the bouncer, you will be prohibited from recovering for your injuries.

But, of course, you do not have to be involved in the fight to be injured. Further, it is up to the jury to decide. The Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Brown Moore & Associates know how to “make a case.” Here is some information on suing for personal injuries caused by bar fights in Charlotte, NC.

Charlotte NC Personal Injuries — Who Might Be Liable For Bar Fight Injuries?

Here in Charlotte and pursuant to North Carolina laws, there might be more than one person or entity at fault for the personal injuries caused in a bar fight. Some possibilities include:

  • Either, both or all of the fighters—you might have been a bystander hit by a flying chair
  • One or more of the employees of the bar or tavern
  • The company that owns the bar
  • The company (if any) that manages the bar or
  • The manufacturer or seller of any device or implement that caused your injury

Charlotte NC Personal Injuries— Proving Negligence in Charlotte

Proving your case means proving one or more of the possible defendants was negligent. Proving negligence begins with establishing the defendant(s) owed you a legal duty.

In general, everyone has a legal duty of taking care not to hurt and injure others. This duty is probably “easy” with respect to the fighters. See below for a longer discussion of the duty owed by the bar.

Once it is established a legal duty was owed, it must be shown that the various defendants breached that duty. With respect to any fighters, breach of duty is easy. Concerning the bar owner, management, and bar employees, the breach may be more difficult to show depending on the facts. If bar employees were involved, then a breach might be easier to prove.

The third and fourth elements necessary to prove negligence are causation and injury. Sometimes these are simple to establish. For example, a flying chair hit your head and caused a head injury and concussion. Sometimes causation is more difficult to show and requires a lot of medical evidence and expert opinions.

The final aspect of proving negligence is establishing your damages. If successful, your damages might include:

  • Past, present, and future medical bills and costs
  • Lost past, present, and future wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent impairment and
  • Loss of use of part of your body

Charlotte NC Personal Injury—Premises Liability in Charlotte

Under North Carolina law, anyone who enters the premises of a store or tavern as a customer during business hours is a “business invitee.” Under the law, an owner owes a duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain his premises in such a condition that it may be used safely by business invitees. In general, a tavern owner is not liable for injuries to business invitees that result from the intentional or criminal acts of third persons.

But, there are some circumstances where a tavern owner WILL be held liable for the criminal acts. Those circumstances include:

  • If the tavern owner has knowledge or reason to know there is a “likelihood” of criminal conduct
  • If the tavern owner’s acts contribute to the criminal conduct
  • If the tavern owner condones or encourages the criminal conduct
  • If the place or character of the business contributes to criminal conduct and
  • Past experience of criminal conduct

Under these circumstances, the bar owner has a duty to protect or warn the other patrons. The key to the duty owed by a tavern owner—or the owner of any premises—is the idea of “reasonable foreseeability.” If it is reasonably foreseeable that criminal acts by third persons might occur, then a tavern owner or landowner has a duty to safeguard his, her, or its business invitees.

Charlotte NC Personal Injury—Dram Shop Laws in Charlotte

In addition to the standard duty owed by a landowner, North Carolina liquor-related laws impose a specific duty on tavern and bar owners not to serve alcoholic drinks to individuals who are intoxicated. See N.C. Gen.Stat. § 18B-305(a). This has been the law in North Carolina since at least 1937. The purpose of the statute is “… (1) the protection of the customer from adverse consequences of intoxication and (2) the protection of the community at large from the injurious consequences of contact with an intoxicated person.” Hutchens v. Hankins, 303 S.E.2d 584 (1983).

Violation of a statutory duty like section 18B-305(a) creates an automatic breach of duty. Thus, if the bar fight was caused, in whole or part, by a drunk patron AND a bar employee served the drunk patron drinks after they were intoxicated, then the bar owners, managers, and employees breached their duty under North Carolina law and might be liable for the resulting personal injuries.

Charlotte NC Personal Injury Lawyers — Brown Moore & Associates, PLLC

If you have been injured in a bar fight, contact your Charlotte NC personal injury attorneys at Brown Moore & Associates, PLLC. We know how to prove negligence and how to gather the right evidence to prove your case. We are experienced and proven personal injury lawyers. Contact our office today. We serve North Carolina residents in Asheville, Charlotte, Concord, Gastonia, Huntersville, Kannapolis, Monroe, Mooresville, Shelby, and surrounding areas.