Injured in a Bar, Night Club, or Tavern? You May Be Entitled to Compensation

It’s late on a Saturday night and you are at your favorite dive bar in the city. An unruly customer is drunk and causing a scene. He is shouting at other patrons, grabbing at women, and threatening to fight anyone who even looks at him. When he bumps into you, you say “watch where you are going man!” to which he responds by sucker punching you in the face. One Emergency Room trip later, you are staring down thousands of dollars in medicals bills and your assailant is sitting in a drunk tank with criminal charges pending. Sure, you can pursue him for medical bills, but what if he is not collectible? Do you have any chance of being reimbursed for your medical bills? And what about pain and suffering? What if surgery is required? The good news is that you may have a legal cause of action against the bar and that bar is likely to have insurance coverage for your injuries.
Wisconsin law provides that the proprietor of a place of business has a “duty of ordinary care” to protect his customers from harm, so long as that harm could have reasonably been discovered by the business before it occurred. This rule is described in Wisconsin Jury Instruction 8045. This means a bar or night club cannot sit back and do nothing when its customers begin acting in a way that may create a threat of harm to other customers. The business must be proactive and take steps to reduce the harm to its customers including, for example, hiring security, limiting the amount of alcohol it serves, removing dangerous customers from the premises, or banning customers who have a history of incidents at the business from returning.
For example, in Kowalczuk v. Rotter (63 Wis. 2d 511), a customer was attacked while at a bar in the presence of a bartender. There was no evidence showing that the employees could have anticipated the attack. However, shortly thereafter, a police officer discovered the same customer was being beaten up by three people on a nearby sidewalk. The court held that the bar had a duty, once it became aware of the attack, to “use such means of protection as were available.” The fact that the bar did not take any steps to protect the customer after the first assault supported the claim that the bar was negligent leading to the customer’s injuries. Even though the customer was injured by other persons, the bar could still be held liable for its own negligence in not protecting the customer.
If you have been injured at a bar, tavern, night club, or restaurant, please call us at 262-652-5050 for a free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all types of injury cases and know how to maximize recovery for our clients. We have handled personal injury cases throughout Wisconsin including Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, and Walworth County. Please give us a call today.

How To File A Personal Injury Claim

If you’ve been recently injured, it can be confusing to figure out what to do next, especially if you are struggling with emotional trauma. “Personal injury cases are legal disputes that arise when one person suffers from an accident or injury, and someone else might be legally responsible for that harm.” (FindLaw 2018) The first steps in taking control of the situation begin immediately after the initial incident. Taking care to follow these steps can help lead the way to successfully holding someone responsible for the emotional and physical damage they have cost you.

First Steps in a Personal Injury Claim

The first action taken is ensuring sustained injuries are taken care of. Failing to have injuries properly evaluated and treated by a medical professional may unintentionally give the impression that there weren’t real injuries, to begin with. This can severely impact the ability to file a personal injury claim, let alone have a successful case. Early treatment also assists in proving that the injuries suffered are all directly related to the accident and not from another underlying cause.

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The subsequent steps to be taken into consideration when filing for personal injury are separated into two categories: documentation and notice. Documentation of an injury includes calling the police immediately following the accident (if you are able), taking photographs of the incident and resulting injuries, giving a statement on the accident and injuries, keeping discharge records from the ER, creating a notebook journal of evaluation and treatment after the accident, keeping receipts for any prescriptions used to treat the injuries, providing a doctor’s note for missed work, etc. Always strive for the most accurate record possible of the event to ensure there is ample proof of the accident and injuries sustained.

The ‘notice’ category begins by formally notifying the parties involved in the accident and injuries. This can include but is not limited to, informing auto insurance of the accident (if the injury is vehicle-related), working with an adjuster to resolve the property damage claim, coordinating with any health insurance that may be applicable, letting the workplace know if you will be out, etc.

Things to Avoid

Filing a claim for personal injury is weighted with several things that should always be avoided, or there is a risk that the claim will be deemed invalid. Never admit fault in the incident, do not make a recorded statement, don’t downplay injuries (let the medical professionals know if your pain rating is 10/10), and don’t try settling a personal injury claim without the assistance and guidance of an attorney.

All of these factors are critical to building a solid case and ensuring that your claim has validity. Take the time to approach the situation with a personal injury attorney who can help you through the legal process of properly filing a personal injury claim to greatly improve the chances of receiving the compensation sought. Hopefully, these steps aren’t needed any time soon, but there is no such thing as ‘too prepared’ for unexpected obstacles one may face.

Contact our attorneys today.

Notes from Attorney James M. Payne