Most nights out are fairly uneventful — you have a few beers, a few laughs, and you make it home safe. Other nights, not so much.

Depending on the kinds of watering holes you frequent, bar fights are relatively rare, as are bar fight injuries. But what happens if you get caught up in a brawl and get hurt? Who’s liable for your injuries in a bar fight?

Suits Against the Person or People Who Hit You

If you know who injured you, you can file an assault or battery claim. Assault and battery are intentional torts, meaning the act that injured you was done on purpose and was no accident. While you must prove the defendant acted purposefully and with the intent to commit battery or assault, you don’t have to prove he or she intended to cause the specific harm that you suffered.

Battery is legally defined as unwanted physical contact and can range from the classic example of a punch to the face to being hit with projectiles, including gunfire. Assault is the threat of offensive physical contact that is intended to and does cause apprehension that the victim will suffer a battery.

You can file an assault and battery claim against bar security personnel, even if you’re not the target of the fight, and even if you don’t know exactly who injured you.

Suits Against the Bar

You could also file a lawsuit against the bar or location of the fight. Bars, restaurants, and other places that serve alcohol have a special legal responsibility to customers. These are known as dram shop laws, and can create civil liability for bars for over-serving their patrons.

While dram shop laws are normally invoked for DUI or underage drinking injuries, but can be applied if those that started or participated in the fight had been served alcohol after the being “obviously intoxicated.” Considering the role alcohol plays in aggressiveness, there’s a good chance this was the case.

Dram shop laws and civil liability in assault and battery cases may vary by state. So if you’ve been injured in a bar fight, you may want to talk to an experienced injury attorney where you live.

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