Restaurant owners may be liable for the injuries or death of their patrons if they fail to protect them from other unruly patrons at the restaurant.
What Do I Have To Prove To Sue The Restaurant Owner For Being Assaulted By Another Patron?
In order to recover your damages from the restaurant owner, you must be able to prove that:
1. The owner had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect his/her patron from harm;
2. The owner failed to exercise reasonable care to protect his/her patron; and
3. The owner’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused the resulting injuries/death.
Under What Circumstances Does The Restaurant Owner Owe A Duty To Protect His/Her Patrons From Assault By Another Patron?
In order to establish that the owner had a duty to protect a patron from assault by other patrons, it is crucial that the assault was foreseeable to the owner. Different states have different approaches in determining when an assault is foreseeable to the restaurant owner.
Some states impose a very stringent test where duty is imposed only in very extraordinary cases, such as if there is a special or pre-existing relationship between the owner and the injured patron. Other states have a very broad test that will impose liability on owners based on the totality of the circumstances.
Some middle ground approaches impose liability on the restaurant owner only if he/she knows that the unruly patron is particularly aggressive and is likely to assault others or if a similar incident had occurred in the restaurant before.
Can I Sue The Restaurant Owner For Being Assaulted By Another Patron In The Parking Lot?
Maybe. The duty to protect patron generally only extends to premises that the restaurant owner owns and controls. If the restaurant owner has no control over the parking lot, then it is difficult to make him/her liable for your injuries.
What Defenses May The Restaurant Owner Raise Against This Claim?
To avoid liability, the restaurant owner needs to prove that:
- The assault was not foreseeable to him/her, so there was no duty for him/her to protect the injured patron,
- Reasonable care to protect the injured patron was exercised; or
- The injury/death was not caused by the owner’s failure to exercise due care (e.g. the injured party might be responsible for his/her own injuries).
Do You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or a loved one have been injured, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about preserving your rights and remedies.