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Man Dies After Scuffle at Downtown Indy Bar

Steve Wagner

In the early hours of Saturday morning on January 9, John Hilf was part of an altercation at Kilroy’s Bar ‘N’ Grill in downtown Indianapolis. According to witnesses and security video, there were no punches thrown; however, the 59-year-old from St. Louis hit his head on a bannister during the incident and was taken to Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital. After three days on life support, John Hilf passed away as a result of the blunt force trauma of hitting his head. The prosecutor’s office is reviewing video, and the coroner has shared with local news outlets that the victim hit his head after being pushed by an unidentified man in the bar. This is a tragic case, and the investigation is ongoing.

When Good Times Go Bad

People often go out to restaurants, pubs, bars, and clubs to spend time with friends, to celebrate and enjoy life. Thankfully, evenings out are uneventful most of the time; unfortunately, when they go badly, there can be dire results. I’m sure we all can think of times when we’ve witnessed the aggressive or foolish behavior of those who want to start trouble or who have had more to drink than they should have (or both). Again, many of these instances are broken up with nothing more to account for, but some become downright frightening. A fight or other altercation can result in traumatic brain injury, and even death. Since injuries sustained, either directly or proximately as a result of physical contact, can result in a need for long-term care, it is important for victims to ensure they are appropriately compensated for expenses caused by a negligent or reckless party. In the case of wrongful death, a lawsuit can allow family members to receive compensation for lost financial support, household services, parental guidance, love, care, and affection, as well as for expenses for medical care, funeral and burial, and legal services.

Who Is Liable?

Obviously, one potentially liable party is the person who assaulted you or your loved one. You must be able to show that your assailant attacked you without legal cause, which can include things like self-defense or defense of a third party or of property. It can also provide a defense to your attacker if he or she can prove that you either consented to the fight or that your own negligence contributed to the incident.

The party who may be liable is the establishment at which the event took place. The theory of premises liability holds that a property owner can be legally responsible for injuries that occur on their property. If a bar or other venue owner is negligent in keeping their physical space safe, in refusing to further serve intoxicated customer, or by failing to provide ample security, the owner may be liable for the injuries sustained.

These situations can be tricky, as many times both parties participated in the altercation itself. Without an experienced lawyer, it may be difficult to find sympathy for your case, particularly in cases where the injuries do not result in death. Have you lost a loved one or experienced a serious injury as a result of a fight or other incident in a bar, club, or other public establishment? Wagner Reese is an Indianapolis-based personal injury law firm with years of experience, and we can help you pursue a case against the assailant and/or establishment responsible for your loss. We don’t collect payment unless you collect payment. Call us now for a FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440.


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