Restaurant Liability To Protect Assaults on Patrons

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 Can a Restaurant Be Held Liable for Assault of a Customer?

A restaurant can potentially be held liable for the assault of a customer under certain circumstances.

The key factor is whether the restaurant owner or employees were negligent in their duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for patrons.

If the restaurant owner failed to take reasonable steps to protect customers from foreseeable harm, they might be found liable for a restaurant injury sustained in an assault.

What Do I Have to Prove to Sue the Restaurant Owner for Being Assaulted by Another Patron?

To put liability on the restaurant for an assault by another patron, you will need to establish the following elements:

  • Duty of care: The restaurant owner had a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for customers.
  • Breach of duty: The restaurant owner breached this duty by failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the assault.
  • Causation: The negligence directly led to the assault and your injuries.
  • Damages: You suffered damages (e.g., physical injuries, emotional distress, lost wages) as a result of the assault.

Under What Circumstances Does the Restaurant Owner Owe a Duty to Protect Their Patrons From Assault by Another Patron?

A restaurant owner has a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect patrons from foreseeable harm.

This duty may arise in situations where the owner or employees are aware of potential threats or have reason to believe that an assault is likely to occur. For example, if there is a history of violent incidents at the establishment or a known aggressive patron on the premises.

Scenario 1: History of Violent Incidents at the Establishment

John’s Bar and Grill has been known to attract a rowdy crowd, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Over the past year, there have been several incidents of patrons getting into physical altercations both inside the bar and in the parking lot.

Local law enforcement has been called to the establishment multiple times to break up fights and arrest individuals involved in the altercations.

Despite being aware of this pattern of violence, the owner, John, has not taken any significant measures to address the issue. He has not hired security personnel, installed security cameras, or implemented stricter policies for admitting patrons.

One Saturday night, Jane, a customer at John’s Bar and Grill, gets caught in the middle of a fight between two intoxicated patrons.

As the fight escalates, Jane is pushed to the ground and suffers a broken wrist as a result.

Because the owner failed to take reasonable steps to address the ongoing issue of violence at the establishment, he could be held liable for Jane’s injuries.

Scenario 2: Known Aggressive Patron on the Premises

Sam’s Steakhouse is a popular restaurant in the city. However, one patron, Mark, has a reputation for being aggressive and confrontational, especially when he has been drinking.

Over the past few months, Mark has been involved in several verbal altercations with other patrons and has been asked to leave the restaurant on more than one occasion.

Despite being aware of Mark’s aggressive tendencies, the owner, Sam, continues to allow Mark to frequent the establishment.

One evening, Mark gets into an argument with another patron, Tom, over a seemingly trivial matter.

The argument quickly escalates, and Mark physically assaults Tom, causing him serious injuries.

Sam, the restaurant owner, had prior knowledge of Mark’s aggressive behavior but failed to take reasonable measures to protect other patrons from potential harm, such as banning Mark from the establishment or having staff closely monitor his behavior. As a result, Sam could be held liable for Tom’s injuries sustained in the assault.

Can I Sue the Restaurant Owner for Being Assaulted by Another Patron in the Parking Lot?

In some cases, you may be able to sue the restaurant owner for an assault that occurs in the parking lot.

The key factor is whether the owner took reasonable steps to ensure the safety of patrons on the property, including the parking lot.

Reasonable steps to ensure safety of patrons may include providing adequate lighting, security patrols, or surveillance cameras. If the owner fails to take such precautions and an assault occurs, they may be held liable for resulting injuries.

What Defenses May the Restaurant Owner Raise against This Claim?

Some potential defenses a restaurant owner may raise in response to a claim of liability for an assault include:

Lack of Foreseeability

The restaurant owner may argue that the assault was not foreseeable and, therefore, not preventable.

Jim’s Italian Bistro is a family-friendly restaurant with no history of violence or aggressive incidents.

One evening, two patrons, who appear to be strangers, suddenly engage in a heated argument over a sports game being broadcast on the restaurant’s television. The argument escalates into a physical altercation, and another customer, Sarah, is injured in the process.

In response to a claim of liability for the assault, the restaurant owner, Jim, argues that the incident was not foreseeable. There was no prior history of violence at the establishment, and the two patrons involved in the altercation had not displayed any signs of aggression before the incident. Jim contends that he could not have anticipated or prevented the assault and should not be held liable for Sarah’s injuries.

Comparative or Contributory Negligence

The owner may claim that the injured party contributed to the assault through their own negligence, such as provoking the attacker or engaging in risky behavior.

Paul’s Pub is known for its lively atmosphere and spirited debates among patrons.

One night, David visits the pub and becomes increasingly confrontational with another patron, Michael. Despite being warned by the staff to calm down, David continues to provoke Michael by making insulting remarks and even throwing a drink at him. Eventually, Michael loses his temper and physically assaults David, causing significant injuries.

In response to a claim of liability for the assault, the pub owner, Paul, argues that David contributed to the assault through his own negligence.

By provoking Michael and engaging in risky behavior, David played a role in escalating the situation, leading to the assault. As a result, the owner contends that the responsibility for David’s injuries should be shared or reduced due to his own actions.

Third-Party Responsibility

The owner may argue that the responsibility for the assault lies with the attacker or another party, not the restaurant.

Lisa’s Café is a popular spot for Sunday brunch. One Sunday morning, a customer, Jane, is assaulted by a stranger who enters the café and immediately becomes aggressive.

The assailant had no prior connection to the café or any of the patrons and appeared to be suffering from a mental health crisis.

Jane sustains injuries as a result of the assault and files a claim against the café owner, Lisa.

In defense against the claim, Lisa argues that the responsibility for the assault lies with the attacker or another party, such as the mental health care system or law enforcement, not the restaurant. She had no knowledge of the attacker and no reason to believe that her establishment was at risk for such an incident. Lisa contends that she should not be held liable for the unforeseeable actions of a third party.

Do You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?

If you’ve been assaulted at a restaurant and believe the owner may be liable for your injuries, it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help you understand your rights, assess the merits of your case, and guide you through the legal process.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

LegalMatch is an online legal matching service that connects you with experienced personal injury attorneys in your area. By using LegalMatch, you can quickly and easily find a qualified attorney specializing in personal injury cases, including assault and premises liability cases.

To get started, you can visit the LegalMatch website and provide some basic information about your case. Then, LegalMatch will match you with several attorneys who have experience handling cases like yours. You can review each attorney’s profile and read reviews from past clients to help you make an informed decision about which attorney to hire.

Once you’ve selected an attorney, you can schedule a consultation to discuss your case in more detail. During the consultation, the attorney will evaluate your case, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with guidance on how to proceed.

Use LegalMatch to find an experienced personal injury attorney who can provide you with the legal representation you need to protect your rights and seek compensation for your injuries.

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