Iowa Drunk Driver LawToday’s question is about being injured by two bar patrons involved in a fight having nothing to do with the person who gets the torn ACL. The innocent injured patron has a lawyer, but needs direction because her lawyers say they can’t get the insurance companies to pay. She has mounting co-pays and needs help on how to proceed.

Question: Can I sue the bar for a torn ACL caused by two patrons fighting and running into me after they had fought twice already?

Question Detail: I was at a nightclub for my friend's birthday. We had reserved a special room for $500 which included a bouncer at the door. This guy who is an acquaintance of my friend came in and got into 2 scuffles with another man in our room. The bouncers had removed this guy twice and the third time it got real physical. A punch was thrown; one man picked the other up and ran with him. They ended up running into me tearing my right ACL and partially tore my right MCL. I had reconstructive knee surgery and spent over $5k out of pocket for medical bills. My current lawyer said we can't sue the club, we can't sue the one guys home owners and the other guys home owners won't pay because the other guy inst paying. I can't believe as an innocent bystander I can't sue the bar when this violent behavior was known by the security team, who I guess I also can't sue. I suffered a serious injury which will be with me the rest of my life and the only one who is paying, is me. Can anyone help me please!

Answer: Maybe the law can help you. There are two theories your lawyers could use. The first is based on a lack of effective security, sort of a negligent security or supervision case. For this legal theory you will need a security expert; sort of like a professional bouncer that can provide testimony about how the security staff should have responded, before you got hurt.

The other is a dram shop case for serving the men either while intoxicated or to the point of intoxication. This is a theory created by Iowa law and you will need to prove the fighting patrons were either served to the point of becoming drunk or served while drunk by the bar. Recently we were successful using this theory. We sued the bar and recovered $150,000 for the minor daughter of the drunken patron who overturned his truck on the way home after being served all day. He was very drunk when he left the bar - and they just let him walk out the door and get in his truck. The dram shop action is a statutory right created in Iowa (but most states offer them) to people injured by people who were either served while intoxicated or to the point of intoxication. It’s meant to dissuade bars and taverns from over-serving patrons who then head out the door and kill innocent people. The fact you were still in the bar when injured doesn’t hurt your dram shop case, but it does add a security cause of action. From your lawyers standpoint that's a good thing.

Now about your lawyers, just because they can’t get the insurance companies to pay up doesn’t mean the lawyers aren’t doing their job or doing it well. They may be, but in any litigation it’s a struggle and takes time. So give your lawyers credit and ask them about the litigation along with this question: Do you think eventually we will win? And if they say no, then ask if you should get a second opinion from another tort lawyer. They can always call in another lawyer to assist if they can’t figure out how to proceed. They will have to share the fee, but in my world some is always better than none.

Good luck and if we can help contact us.

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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