Updated March 24, 2019
A 59-year old St. Louis man received a head injury early on Saturday, January 9, 2016 during a bar fight at an Indianapolis establishment. He died from his injuries the following Monday.
Although the specific details of this case have not been released, one source noted that there are similarities to a death that occurred in May of 2015. In that incident, a patron fell and struck his head after an argument that included management and another patron. He was treated by emergency services but died after being taken to the hospital. The coroner’s report revealed that an existing brain aneurysm had ruptured, leading to his death. No charges have been filed, but the cause of death was eventually ruled a homicide in August.
In a separate incident, an altercation in a different Indianapolis bar in September left another man dead. It’s still not clear what happened in that case or who was responsible.
Fatal incidents like this are extreme, but they happen. More likely, when an altercation happens at a bar or restaurant, it will result only in minor injury or none at all. But patrons can also be harmed in other ways, such as by slipping and falling on an unsafe floor or because a spill wasn’t mopped up. These incidents are far more common.
They also raise concerns about whether or not the owners of bars and restaurants are responsible for providing a safe environment for their patrons. When accidents happen and cause harm, the victims and their families are left wondering who can be held responsible and to what extent.
In Indiana, as in most states, different issues can be in play in a case like this. Patrons should expect that a business is safe, both as a structure and as a place for social interaction. If the business did not maintain a physically safe environment, there might be an issue of premises liability. For example, was the area properly illuminated and was the floor maintained to prevent falls? If an establishment did not discourage reckless behavior that could obviously lead to harm, they might share responsibility if someone is actually hurt.
If a bar or club employee, such as a “bouncer,” causes physical harm to someone, it could be appropriate to seek criminal charges, file a civil suit, or both. If an injury was caused by a clearly intoxicated patron who was served additional alcohol, it is possible that the business might be liable under the dram shop law, which holds servers responsible when known drunk individuals cause harm.
In the most extreme cases, if someone dies because of the actions or negligence of a bar’s management or employees, a wrongful death suit might be a supportable course of action. The circumstances of every case are different, and there are no easy answers.
If you or a loved one have been injured while patronizing a business and you believe negligence was involved, you should contact the Indianapolis Premises Liability Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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