Bar brawls: who is liable?

Restaurant and bar owners have a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonable, safe condition and to warn invitees of hidden dangers. But what if you are attacked by a third party in the restaurant parking lot? In 2008, 110,620 reported violent crimes against people, including assault, which occurred in commercial parking lots such as those of restaurants, bars, and clubs. Whether or not a victim can sue a restaurant or bar owner for liability depends on the circumstances.

bar brawl

Generally, Virginia restaurant and bar owners have no duty to protect invitees from intentional torts or criminal assaults by third parties while the customer is on the premises. However, Virginia does recognize one narrow exception to the general rule.

A restaurant or bar owner is liable for a third-party assault on invitees where owners had

  1. notice of a specific danger just prior to the assault
  2. know the criminal assaults against the invitee “are occurring, or are about to occur, on the premises which indicate imminent probability of harm” to the invitee.

This can include instances where a business owner had banned the third party from the premises for multiple instances of assaulting customers. Plaintiffs who are not restaurant or bar invitees at the time of the third party attack, however, are not able to rely on this exception.

If you are injured at a Virginia restaurant or bar, know that you still have rights.  It’s important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to make ensure you do not waive any claims you may have to compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at Allen & Allen have more than 600 years of combined experience in personal injury claims. If you have been injured, give us a call or fill out our contact form.