Under Texas premises liability law, restaurants and bars have a duty to protect their customers. However, the extent of this duty is often called into question in cases where someone is injured while visiting an eating or drinking establishment. In a recent opinion, the court was asked to determine whether the defendant bar owed the plaintiff a duty of care to protect him against the criminal acts of a third party.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff and a friend were drinking at the defendant bar. While they were at the bar, there were no issues. However, at 3 a.m., when the bar closed, the plaintiff was attacked by another bar patron. The fight left the plaintiff permanently blinded.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the bar, arguing that the bar was negligent for failing to take any steps to protect him against the criminal acts of the other bar patron. In support of his claim, the plaintiff pointed to the fact that the police had been called five times the previous year for fights occurring in the bar’s parking lot immediately after closing.
The bar argued that it did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care because the fight that resulted in his injuries was not foreseeable. The bar pointed out that there was no sign of aggression inside the bar, and that there was no indication there would be a fight.
The trial court agreed with the plaintiff, and denied the bar’s motion for summary judgment. The bar appealed the case. On appeal, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision, finding that the bar did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care in this particular case. The court reasoned that, while it may have been generally foreseeable that bar customers would get into a fight in the parking lot, the question was whether “there is some probability or likelihood of harm that is serious enough to induce a reasonable person to take precautions to avoid it, not merely that harm is sufficiently likely.”
In holding that the defendant bar’s motion for summary judgment should have been granted, the court relied on the fact that there was nothing that occurred inside the bar that evening indicating that the plaintiff was about to be attacked. The court also noted that the bar did not have any knowledge that the person who attacked the plaintiff was inclined to commit such an attack.
This case illustrates the importance of thoroughly investigating and researching past incidents of violence in a premises liability case such as this. While past incidents may not always be admissible, in certain situations they may be relevant to the court’s inquiry. Those injured in a Texas bar or restaurant, should reach out to a dedicated Texas criminal defense attorney for immediate assistance with their claim.
Have You Been Injured in a Texas Bar or Restaurant?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a restaurant or bar, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Texas premises liability lawsuit. At Carabin Shaw, we represent injury victims and their families in even the most complex personal injury lawsuits, including Texas premises liability cases, motor vehicle accidents, and more. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, call 800-862-1260. Calling is free, available 24/7, and we will not charge you for our representation unless we can successfully help you recover for your injuries.