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Illinois man says tavern failed to protect him from bar fight

A negligent party who inflicts direct damage upon a victim faces possible criminal and civil charges. A customer injured at a commercial establishment also may claim damages from a property owner who does not prevent a patron's injury.

A Southwestern Illinois case illustrates how a third party may be held accountable in a premises liability lawsuit. The plaintiff entered a Lenzburg bar late last year, where a pair of intoxicated patrons got into a fist fight. The brawling men allegedly turned on the uninvolved customer.

The victim claims punches and facial kicks that he suffered created a disabling medical condition that physically and financially impacted him. On top of medical expenses for hospitalization and facial surgery, the bar patron lost work income and was disfigured. Almost a year after the incident, the plaintiff still experiences vision problems that preclude pursuit of a "normal" life.

The $200,000-plus lawsuit accused the owner of the tavern of inadequate security, even after the bartender realized the noisy, drunk patrons posed a danger. The claim alleges that rather than calling police immediately or working to deescalate the situation, the bartender - the target of a glass thrown by one of the fighters - hurled provocative words that incited more violence.

A commercial property owner owes a customer a "reasonable" duty of care, which includes sufficient protection from assaults. Security concerns encompass, but aren't limited to, the size of a staff, the presence of a security guard, the use of on-site cameras or the failure to install proper lighting.

Evidence of security negligence must be concrete for liability claims to result in damage awards. For that reason, personal injury attorneys advise victims to seek legal assistance as soon as possible following an injury, when proof and witness statements are fresh and most easily attainable.

Compensation for premises liability claims may cover a victim's financial losses, as well as physical and emotional suffering.

Source: madisonrecord.com, "Lenzburg tavern sued by patron claiming he was punched in face" Kelly Holleran, Nov. 11, 2013

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