It is not uncommon for a patron within a business, such as a bar or restaurant, to be injured by another patron in the same business. When that occurs, the victim may feel as though the business owner and/or their employees could have and should have done more to protect them. Under the law in California, the owner of a business has the absolute duty to take reasonable steps to keep their patrons free from violence, and this includes the duty to keep their patrons safe from an assault by someone on their property
When There is Just One Act of Violence
California law provides that the owner of a business open to the public must use reasonable care to protect guests from another person’s harmful conduct on their property if they can reasonably anticipate such conduct might occur. Sometimes, when the business does not have a history of violence occurring on their property, the most important issue is whether the business owner knew or should have known the one committing the assault had either a dangerous propensity for violence or the circumstances were such that the employees of the business could see there was about to be a violent act. For example, in a typical scenario at a bar, intoxicated patrons will sometimes act aggressively toward one another. If before a physical assault occurs, there is a loud argument or other confrontation, the business owner’s employees have a duty to intervene to protect their patron. In order to protect their guest, the bar employees may have a duty to physically intervene, call the police or have their own security staff address the problem. What is “reasonable” under the circumstances depends on a variety of factors including timing, presence of security, the use of a deadly weapon, etc. All of these factors determine whether there was negligence on the part of the business owner.
When There is a History of Violence on the Property
In other instances, a business owner may be liable for not providing adequate security where there have been prior acts of violence on the property. Where there is evidence of prior similar incidents or other indications of a reasonably foreseeable risk of violent criminal assaults at that location, the law imposes on the business a “special-relationship” with their patrons and an obligation to provide guards to protect the safety of patrons. This obligation has only to do with the history of the business and not what happened on the occasion when the patron was injured. In these circumstances, the timing of the incident is not nearly as important as when the business has no history but a violent assault is preceded by some warning such as a verbal confrontation. What is important is the extent to which there have been prior acts of violence, similar in nature, before the incident giving rise to a claim. If, for example, there have been numerous assaults occurring at a restaurant/bar and they fail to provide security guards to protect their patrons, then a patron injured during the next assault may have a valid cause of action, not only against the perpetrator but the restaurant/bar as well. While these cases usually involve an apportionment of responsibility between the violent perpetrator and the business owner, they are quite often worthy of pursuit.
Contact an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney for Help
If you were injured or a loved one killed during a violent assault on a business property, seeking the advice of a seasoned personal injury attorney is likely the best first step to take toward obtaining compensation for the injuries and damages suffered. Mr. Ralph has more than 30 years of experience at handling personal injury and third party assault cases in Orange County and the Southern California area. His office is centrally located in Orange County for the convenience of his clients. Mr. Ralph’s services are provided on a contingency basis so if there is no recovery there are no fees. He can be reached for a free consultation by calling the number below or simply sending a message with the details of your potential case.