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October 26th, 2016

Nightclub or Bar Liability for Alcohol Related Fights in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Fights & Assaults in Clubs or Bars – Pennsylvania & New Jersey Law

Fights or assaults in clubs and bars in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are very common, especially in larger cities like Philadelphia or at the Jersey shore in the summer. In this article, our PA & NJ alcohol accident and injury lawyers discuss the laws regarding fights and assaults in clubs or bars and a victim’s legal right to compensation.

Violation of State Dram Shop Laws (Negligence in Serving Alcohol)

Alcohol is big money for businesses that serve alcohol like clubs, bars and restaurants. Profit margins can be quite high, sometimes 80 or 90%. That’s why states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey impose laws on the ability to serve alcohol in an establishment.

One of the most important set of laws is known as dram shop law, which makes it illegal for a business to either 1. serve alcohol to minors, or 2. serve alcohol to individuals who are already visibly intoxicated. Though they vary in minor ways, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have passed such laws.

Related: I was assaulted in a bar fight in Pennsylvania. I am a New Jersey resident. Can I sue the bar for my injuries? Can I get compensated for my pain and suffering?

When a club or bar violates the law, it can be held liable to an individual who is injured due to an assault or fight. This is also true for accidents like a DUI car accident or a mishap, i.e., a drunk person falls down a flight of stairs leaving a bar.

The injury and accident laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey allow an individual, who is injured as a result of a violation of dram shop laws, to recover compensation for their injuries and pain and suffering.

Other Negligence Issues

In bar fight or assault cases, other factors often play a role in whether the club or bar can be held liable. Oftentimes, fights break out due to both violation of dram shop laws, as well as other negligence factors, i.e., failing to take reasonable steps to avoid a foreseeable injury. Common negligence claims include failure to employ security personnel and overcrowding, which are often related.

Failure to Employ Security or Adequate Security

In some areas, clubs and bars may have issues with violence. A club or bar located in a dangerous part of Philadelphia or Camden may have problems with particular patrons starting fights. In some situations, a club or bar may be liable for failing to hire enough bouncers or otherwise failing to implement security measures like lights in the parking lot.

Overcrowding (Violating Maximum Occupancy Regulations)

Alcohol and overcrowding don’t mix. Time and time again, we see fights break out due to overcrowding. People who are drunk or buzzed may be more prone to violence. Someone bumps into another, spills a drink and suddenly a fight breaks out.

When a club or bar ignores max occupancy rules and allows too many people into the establishment, it may be liable when fights break out. For example, two large groups of 20 are at an overcrowded bar. Everyone has had too much to drink. Despite the max occupancy of 80, there are nearly 150 people in the bar and not enough bouncers to help keep everyone under control. A fight breaks out between the two groups, and one individual is beaten to death. The bar may be liable for violating max occupancy regulations and violating state dram shop laws.

Visit our law library for more info about alcohol liability lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.