Fort Lauderdale nightclubs are popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. The American Nightlife Association reports the U.S. bar and nightclub industry is one that rakes in nearly $730 billion a year – most of that from food and drink sales.
With these benefits comes the responsibility to maintain the business site in reasonably safe condition for patrons. However, there is ample potential for nightclub injuries, whether it be from slip-and-falls on a wet dance floor to defective stairwells to breakouts of violence among fellow patrons or bouncers.
The Fort Lauderdale nightclub injury lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm know that these cases are often challenging because plaintiffs may have been impaired at the time of the injury. This can negatively impact one’s credibility as a witness. However, there is usually other evidence in the form of surveillance video, witness statements and more, that can help corroborate a claim. Even in cases where plaintiff may have been partially to blame, F.S. 768.81 stipulates comparative fault won’t prohibit a claim for damages.What Responsibilities Do Nightclubs Have?
As all businesses that invite members of the public onto their site to profit the business, nightclub owners, possessors and managers owe the greatest duty of care to patrons.
That’s because Florida premises liability law centers on the legal status of the plaintiff injury victim. The three main statuses are:
- Invitee. This is someone who is invited to enter or remain on premises in a manner that is either express or implied. A business invitee is a person invited on site for the benefit of the business property owner.
- Invited licensee. This is someone who is invited to enter or remain on site – in a manner either express or reasonably implied – but whose purpose does not necessarily benefit the property owner.
- Trespasser. These individuals have not been invited to enter or have been asked to leave and refused.
Nightclub patrons are almost always going to be considered invitees, which means the property owner has a duty to maintain the site in reasonably safe condition, regularly check the site for potential dangers, timely remedy potential hazards (particularly if they are not obvious) and to warn about dangerous conditions if they can’t be fixed right away.
A nightclub injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale generally will need to show that the harm in question was foreseeable. If a defendant was not able to foresee the danger, the property owner typically will not be held liable – even if plaintiff’s injuries were serious or fatal.
As noted in the 1992 Florida Supreme Court ruling in McCain v. Florida Power Corp., foreseeability is crucial in defining the scope of general duty placed on every person to avoid negligent acts or omissions. Where the conduct of defendant (alleged wrongdoer) creates a foreseeable zone of risk, the law will typically recognize a duty was placed on defendant to either lessen the risk or take adequate precautions to protect others.Examples of Fort Lauderdale Nightclub Injuries
There are many circumstances under which a nightclub could be liable for injuries to patrons. Those may include (but aren’t limited to):
- Slip-and-falls. The National Restaurant Association reports the most frequent general liability claims across the industry are for slip-and-falls. In a nightclub, we generally see hazards arise due to tipsy patrons in crowded spaces with drinks in hand, either dancing or just making their way through the aisles. Slippery conditions may also result in bar or nightclub bathrooms. To hold an establishment liable for a slip-and-fall, we look to F.S. 768.0755, which requires proof the property owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition. Constructive knowledge means proof it either occurred with regularity or existed for such a time that it should have been discovered through reasonable care. For example, a single spill on the dance floor may only have existed for a short period of time before it causes a fall, and thus we may not prove it existed long enough to be discovered. However, the nightclub injury lawyers at our Fort Lauderdale firm may be able to show that the condition occurred with regularity as patrons were allowed to dance with drinks in hand, resulting in drinks commonly being spilled, which resulted in a foreseeable fall hazard.
- Violence/ Third-Party Attacks/ Negligent Security. Property owners can be liable for third-party attacks if they knew or should have known there was a risk of such encounters and failed to protect against it. That doesn’t mean you can sue for every bar fight. There must be some evidence that the attack was foreseeable (was this a site where fights regularly broke out?) and that the nightclub failed to protect patrons by having enough security to prevent or adequately respond to it. The question of adequate security could also in some cases extend to the parking lot, where injury lawyers may examine whether lighting was adequate lighting, crowd control, etc.
- Serving alcohol to a minor. This is not necessarily a premises liability claim, though it could be. Usually this claim arises in DUI accident cases where victims assert dram shop liability. F.S. 768.125 states a business that sells or furnishes alcohol to a person of lawful drinking age won’t be liable for injury or damage caused by that person, unless the establishment willfully and unlawfully serves a person who is under 21 or known to be addicted to alcohol.
Most nightclubs maintain general liability insurance policies that provide cover for these incidents. That doesn’t mean, however, that obtaining compensation will be easy or simple. Our experienced Fort Lauderdale nightclub injury attorneys can help you formulate a strategy to maximize your odds for recovery.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.