As some of the final Covid-19 rules around the topic of social distancing and the wearing of face coverings in indoor hospitality begin to lift, clubs, bars, theatres and other leisure venues can open at full capacity for the first time in over a year! So, we’ve turned our attention to the accidents which could, potentially happen in bar and club settings.
The excitement of being able to freely mix with others and get back on the dancefloor in once familiar scenarios could, understandably, lead to a little over enthusiasm by revellers. Especially after such a sustained period where we’ve all been banned from frequenting bars and clubs. However, public liability claims of this nature were frequent long before the much anticipated ‘freedom day’.
Prominent Employee Injuries
It’s the duty of bar and club owners to uphold health and safety practices and legal requirements, to ensure that the working environment is free from slip or spillage hazards and the resultant or injuries which could arise. A host of injuries, many including sharp glass which result in cuts or lacerations, slips, trips and falls due to spillages and low lighting in working areas can make this type of employment environment precarious for staff members going about their business behind the scenes.
Bars and Clubs Present Various Personal Injury Scenarios
Bars and clubs are acknowledged as being places where risk is increased. Which is hardly surprising when considering the combination of alcohol, dimmed lighting and high spirits creating a heady mix.
Drinks can be spilled causing slippery surfaces, broken glass could create cut and laceration injuries, while uneven flooring or unseen obstacles could be responsible for trips and subsequent falls.
Elsewhere, compromised situations could evolve thanks to uninhibited, drink-fuelled antics, where revellers could experience a lack of spatial awareness, or become increasingly accident prone, thanks to diminished responsibilities.
The Most Recurrent Personal Injuries Which Happen in Bars and Clubs
Here we take a closer look at some of the most common types of accidents in public which can ultimately lead to compensation claims, which we’ve touched on earlier
Slips, Trips and Falls
Arguably, the most reported accidental injuries which can befall an individual in a bar or club setting, centre around slip, trip and falls. Primarily caused by spillages of drinks which present on floor surfaces, caused either by other customers or venue employees.
Overcrowding can often lead to falls. Personal injuries caused by slips and trips are common in a variety of everyday circumstances yet can be ramped up when a large number of people congregate in a relatively restricted space. A bar or club which is considered beyond capacity when an accident befalls a claimant would effectively mean that the venue owners might face public liability scrutiny, for the simple reason that they allowed it to become overcrowded and thus increasing the probability of personal injury.
Cuts and Lacerations
Also cited under the heading of more ‘accidental injuries’, are personal injuries which manifest in the form of cuts and lacerations. Primarily due to coming into direct contact with broken glass, or injuries consistent with defective bottles/other drinking vessels.
Physical Injuries Caused to Customers by Door Staff / Bouncers
Although carefully vetted for criminal convictions and regulated by the industry prior to being contracted by bars and clubs, there have been instances where door staff have carried out physical assaults on members of the public. It’s not unheard of for customers to complain of being on the receiving end of heavy-handed practices from door staff on a night out. In this case, the public liability aspect lies with the owners of the entertainment venue in the professional capacity of their employers.
Physical Injuries Consistent with Assault on Employees by Customers
From an employee perspective, working in bars and clubs can mean being vulnerable to attacks from members of the public. While for the most part we’re referring to attacks of non-sexual nature, sexual assaults from inebriated customers can also occur. Once again, because an employee is owed a duty of care by their employer, then there could be grounds to seek damages from an employer in these scenarios.
Who Is Ultimately Liable to Ensure Customer Safety in Bar and Club Settings?
In terms of public liability, the buck stops with the owners and operators of bars and clubs, who have a duty of care to uphold at all times, in relation to both customers and employees.
In the eyes of the law, it’s legally compliant to ‘take reasonable steps’ to safeguard customers and staff from hazards. Hazards which can come with the territory and include the above-mentioned situations panning out.
Steps to protect, range from the employment of sufficient numbers of staff to promptly clean up broken bottles and spilt drinks, together with installing appropriate ‘wet floor’ signage as and when required to prevent slips, trips and falls. These protocols extend to checking for uneven floor surfaces.
For the record, there isn’t a mandate for public liability insurance in the UK, although employers’ liability cover is compulsory for most businesses that employ staff.
Negligence and Poor Facility Maintenance Cited Amongst Causes of Bar and Club Compensation Claims
Aside from human error, negligence and substandard venue management and maintenance can lead to accidents in bars and clubs. If this is proven to be the case, then personal injury claims can be made by claimants as a result of another party’s negligent actions.
Apportioning blame to bar and club proprietors can be legally justified, in the event that they have been complacent in their agreed duty of care obligations. Failure to carry out far-reaching and regular bar inspections, providing inadequate lighting and/or security measures, and raising employee and customer awareness of hazards are all areas where owners might fall short in their duties.
Meanwhile, serving too much alcohol to patrons who become disruptive, or allowing inebriated ones to enter an establishment could be cited under negating to uphold public liability compliance.
What To Do If You Believe You’ve Been the Victim of Bar and Club-based Accidents
If you believe that you’ve been the victim of an avoidable accident in a bar or club setting which led to a personal injury befalling you, then you have 2 years from the date of the incident to commence a claim for compensation with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), and 3 years to make a bar or club accident claim from your employer.