Victorville Bar Fight Results in Victim’s Death In Premises Liability Case

by bisnarchase on March 6, 2013

A man involved in a fight in the parking lot of a Victorville bar died from his injuries, according to ABC News.  San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of a fight outside bar on Spring Valley Highway, where they found a 32-year-old man in serious condition from injuries sustained in a brawl.  The victim was airlifted to an area hospital but died of his injuries a short time later.

Police were able to locate a suspect after interviewing witnesses at the scene.  The 30-year-old man was located at a nearby home and booked on charges of murder.  The investigation continues into the circumstances of the fight.  Police are asking anyone with information about the fight to contact the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is an area of the law concerning the duties of the owners of property to provide for the safety of those who are on their premises.  In order for an owner to be liable under premises liability law, three factors must be present.

1)       The defendant must be the owner or have possession of the property.  Under this condition, a renter who has exclusive use of the property can be considered the owner for purposes of liability.

2)      The person who is injured must, in most states, be invited onto the property.  However, in California, the 1968 case of Rowland vs. Christian, 69 Cal. 2d. 108, abolished the significance of the terms “invitee” or “trespasser.”  In the past, a strong distinction was made between those who were invited onto a property and those who simply entered the property on their own.  Today, property owners must exercise a reasonable duty of care to anyone who comes on their property.

3)      The defendant must commit a wrongful act or be guilty of negligence.  In a place such as a restaurant, bar or store, the owner may be liable if someone else commits an unlawful act under the doctrine of “third party premises liability.”  This means that the owner can be liable for negligence if he or she does not take reasonable precautions to prevent dangerous activities on the property.

What Is Dram Shop Liability?

A special area of premises liability law is known as dram shop liability.  The old term “dram shop” meant a tavern or bar, and dram shop owners were required by common law to prevent injury to their patrons by controlling the flow of liquor.  Today, dram shop liability is applied to situations in which a restaurant or bar owner serves alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons.  If a bar owner continues to serve patrons who are drunk, the owner may be liable if the patrons cause an accident or injure someone in a fight.

Can I Recover Damages If I Am At Fault For A Fight?

What about the liability of the person who was involved in the fight?  In this case, it may be assumed that the victim was involved in an argument that led to a physical confrontation.  Assuming that he had a chance to walk away from the altercation, can the victim’s family pursue a claim under premises liability or dram shop liability law?

California allows the award of partial damages to someone who has been the victim of an injury in which he or she was partially liable.  This theory is known as comparative liability.

A personal injury attorney can explain the issues regarding comparative liability, premises liability and dram shop liability.

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