What Are Your Legal Rights After a Shooting at a Bar or Nightclub in Ohio?
While shootings at bars and nightclubs often make for good headlines, these events can have tragic consequences for victims and their families. Suffering a gunshot wound can change the victim’s life forever, and when a shooting proves fatal, the victim’s family members can spend the rest of their lives coping with the emotional and financial consequences of their loved one’s untimely death.
Our firm was recently engaged to represent the victim of a shooting at the Buck’s Platinum Gentlemen’s Club in Ohio. The shooting occurred on New Year’s Day in the early morning hours, with first-hand accounts indicating that the shooter fired into a crowd, injuring multiple innocent patrons. One of these innocent patrons was our client. The incident made headlines, but what the media coverage of the incident doesn’t show is how the shooting has forever changed our client’s life.
Who Is Legally Accountable for a Shooting at a Bar or Nightclub?
For shooting victims and their families, a key question is: Who is legally accountable? Shootings can leave victims and families facing significant financial costs in addition to their trauma. Under Ohio law, victims and families can recover just compensation for their financial and non-financial losses, but doing so is a multi-step process that starts with identifying the party (or parties) that are responsible.
You might think that the shooter is responsible—and you’d be right. Not only is shooting someone a crime, but it also makes the shooter legally accountable for the victim’s (or the grieving family’s) losses. Whether a shooting is intentional, inadvertent or accidental, Ohio law makes clear that the shooter is liable as a result of his or her malicious, reckless or negligent conduct.
But, when filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim for a shooting at a bar or nightclub, it is important to consider the practicalities involved. Pursuing a successful claim takes time, and there are costs involved at various stages of the process. Even if a shooter is clearly liable, if the shooter does not have the assets needed to cover the victim’s or family’s losses, then filing a claim against the shooter might not make sense. In this scenario, the best approach may be to leave it to the criminal justice system to prosecute, impose a fine (that the state can collect over time) and send the shooter to prison.
Fortunately, filing a claim against the shooter isn’t the only option in many cases. This is especially true when the shooting occurs at a bar, nightclub or other business. Oftentimes, shooting victims and their families will be able to file claims against the businesses that are responsible for allowing shootings to occur.
Suing a Bar, Nightclub or Other Business After a Shooting in Ohio
In Ohio, all businesses owe a duty of care to their patrons—and to the public at large. The law requires that all bars, nightclubs and other businesses ensure that their premises are reasonably safe. While this includes addressing safety risks such as slip and trip hazards, it also includes taking reasonable steps to prevent shootings on their premises.
As a result, when shootings occur at bars, nightclubs and other businesses, the business owners can often be held liable for providing negligent security. Some examples of negligent security include:
- Failing to prevent patrons from entering the business with weapons
- Failing to intervene when a fight erupts
- Failing to install adequate lighting and take other appropriate safety precautions
Bars, nightclubs, and other businesses have insurance that covers shootings and other incidents on their premises. So, while the business may technically be liable, recovering just compensation will typically involve filing an insurance claim. Business liability insurance policies often have substantial policy limits, so filing a claim against a negligent business will allow for a full financial recovery in many cases.
There are other possibilities as well. For example, if the shooter bought the gun at a store, the retailer could be liable if it failed to confirm the shooter’s eligibility to purchase a firearm. In cases involving shooters who are minors, their parents can also be held liable in some cases. When coping with the effects of a serious or fatal shooting, it is important to consider all possible sources of financial recovery—and to work closely with your lawyer to ensure that you are seeking the maximum compensation available.
How to Protect Your Legal Rights After a Shooting at a Bar, Nightclub or Other Business in Ohio
If you or a loved one has been victimized in a shooting at an Ohio bar, nightclub or other business, there are some important steps you should take to protect your (and your family’s) legal rights. For example, after a shooting, it is important to:
- Get the Treatment You Need – Whether you were shot or you are struggling to cope with the loss of a family member, it is important to get the treatment you need. Go to the doctor, explain what happened and then follow your doctor’s advice so that you can start to move on.
- Take Detailed Notes – If you are thinking about filing a claim (which you should be), you should write down as many details as you can remember about the shooting. No detail is too small. Did you know anyone who was there? Were there any other witnesses? Did anyone call 911? These are just a few examples of the details you will want to share with your attorney.
- Contact an Attorney for a Free Consultation – To file a claim for a shooting at a bar, nightclub or other business, you will need an experienced attorney on your side. You should schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney as soon as possible.
Contact Us for a Free and Confidential Consultation in Columbus, OH
Do you need to know more about filing a claim after a shooting at a bar, nightclub or other business in Ohio? If so, we invite you to get in touch. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with an attorney at Malek & Malek Law Firm, please call 888-444-7440 or contact us online today.