Over $100 Million Recovered For Our Clients “Roger K. Gelb is one of the area’s most respected and sought-after legal minds” – Washingtonian Magazine
Nightclub Injury Lawyer
Our nightclub injury lawyers have been practicing law in Washington, D.C. for nearly 70 years. Nightclub injury laws, and in particular the law regarding bouncers at clubs, are unique. Of course, an injury from a bouncer is not the only potential injury in a nightclub. Just as common are slip and fall injuries as well as assaults and batteries from other patrons. Understandably, slip and fall cases can be trickier because the plaintiff may be drinking. Given that Washington, DC is a contributory negligence jurisdiction, a slip and fall may not be worth pursuing. But as with any other injury case, it is important to consult with an experienced nightclub injury lawyer to determine whether your case is worth pursuing.
To clarify, contributory negligence, which is applicable in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, is a rule that bars recovery for the plaintiff if you are even 1% negligent for the injury. This is an unfortunate rule and there are only five jurisdictions in the United States that follow it. However, it can be difficult to convince a jury that you were not even 1% negligent if you are drinking at a nightclub. Even though the burden is technically on the defense to prove this affirmative defense, it may be a losing battle. Of course, you may not be drunk at all, or the facts of the case may be particularly egregious that you do have a viable claim. Below, we will discuss the best, and generally most successful, claims against nightclubs in DC.
Battery by a Patron
The law for battery against another patron at a nightclub is the same as outside a nightclub. The difference is it is far more likely to occur when you visit a club. When you visit a nightclub, strangers are often in close proximity. Perhaps most significantly, there is plenty of alcohol to heighten emotions. When you contact a nightclub injury lawyer, this is the legal argument for your case. To make a prima facie argument for battery, you must prove three elements. First, we must prove there is an act by the defendant, the person who hit you, which brings harmful or offensive contact to you, the plaintiff. Second, we must show intent on the part of the defendant to bring about the harmful or offensive contact. Third, we must prove both legal and actual causation.
Of course, there are plenty of legal technicalities that go into each element. The key to remember is that, for it to be a battery, the act must have been intentional. If it was not intentional, you may still have a claim, but it will likely be under a negligence cause of action. The intentional act should also cause you harm to have a claim worth pursuing. While technically any harmful or offensive contact constitutes a battery, it is not pursuing if the only thing the contact does is make you upset. A strong battery case has physical damages that lead to some injury. Contact our nightclub injury lawyers if you believe you may have a case. Our consultations are always free.
Battery by a Bouncer
Our nightclub injury lawyers handle these cases frequently. Everyone has encountered a bouncer who is perhaps more aggressive than he should be. Just like above, a battery from a bouncer requires three elements for a viable claim. There must be an act which brings harmful or offensive contact, intent, and causation. But when a bouncer causes a battery, it can be more serious. First, security at a nightclub is in a position of power. He or she also is presumably sober while you may be inebriated, making you vulnerable. Moreover, this person is meant to keep the peace and minimize chaos, not create it. Further, a bouncer’s job description includes getting physical with patrons. This makes it particularly frightening for a person who is more than likely smaller in physical stature.
When pursuing a valid battery claim against a bouncer, you may have two defendants. The first is against the bouncer in his or her personal capacity. But the second, and potentially more lucrative case is against the bar. The doctrine of respondeat superior holds an employer vicariously liable for tortious acts committed by her employee within the scope of the employment relationship. In general, an intentional act such as a battery is not within the scope of employment. For example, if a dentist’s assistant assaults and batters you, you cannot hold the dentist’s office vicariously liable. The reason is because it is not in the course and scope of the dental assistant’s duties to act with force.
However, there are exceptions to this general rule our nightclub injury lawyers encounter. The three classic cases are when an employee is furthering the business of the employer, when friction is generated by the employment such as by a bill collector, and when force is authorized in the employment, such as a bouncer. In the case of a bouncer, force is authorized and expected to remove disorderly patrons. Accordingly, nightclubs need to be particularly careful when hiring bouncers because, if it a negligent hire or the bouncer otherwise breaks the law, the bar or nightclub is ultimately responsible.
Contact a Seasoned Nightclub Injury Lawyer
Roger K. Gelb and his team have been handling personal injury cases in Washington, DC and Maryland since 1954. If you believe you have a case regarding a nightclub or bar injury, contact us today for a free consultation.
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