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Claiming Damages in Tricky Situations

Steve Wagner

Bar fights can be tragic as the participants are frequently intoxicated and often unable to fully control their actions. For instance, on February 22, a Camby, IN man was involved in a bar fight and was arrested for battery causing injury. The incident occurred at a Southwestern bar on Kentucky Avenue when a white man shouted racial slurs towards a black woman, who was also drinking at the bar. The Camby man stood up to defend the woman and then a fight ensued. The man who was slinging insults ended up being injured in the fight.

It may be argued that the victim “asked for it” when he racially abusing the woman, violating her civil rights. However, even when there seems to be justification for the assault, assault is still illegal, dangerous and harmful to the victim. The case for racial abuse is separate from the case for assault. The victim can, in fact, file a personal injury claim, even if the assaulter is acquitted against criminal charges related to the assault.

However, making the charges stick for assault does take some convincing. The jury may be unmoved if the plaintiff’s arguments are weak, or if the aggressor can convince the jury that he acted in self-defense or out of defense for the woman who was being verbally abused. It is possible to implicate the bar as well, based on the premises liability theory, alleging that the bar lacked proper security to prevent the fight.

In September 2012, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the insurance company of a bar is not obligated to pay damages to patrons injured in bar fights. This verdict is a reversal of a trial court’s order that had made the bar liable to pay compensation for two plaintiffs injured in a 2004 bar fight at Hammond.

The circumstances surrounding the 2004 incident were similar to this recent incident involving the Cambry man. In that incident, the victims had a “verbal exchange” with a woman, and the woman’s friend assaulted both of them. The victims subsequently went after the bar for compensation. In this case, the court rejected the premises liability theory. But this theory may still hold, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. The bar’s insurance policy had Assault and Battery Exclusion, and also an exclusion for Expected or Intended Injuries, which had a significant outcome on the verdict.

The bottom-line is that it takes a seasoned Indiana personal injury attorney to delve into the finer points of the law, argue convincingly, and make out a winnable case for compensation. Wagner Reese, with its team of experienced Indiana personal injury attorneys is the right choice to represent you in these cases, especially considering our track record, and the fact that we do not charge any money upfront.

Contact us at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation and receive more information on how we can assist you in this process.


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