6 Common Lawsuits Faced By Bar Owners

common lawsuits faced by by bar owners pub litigation

Owning a bar has a unique set of challenges apart from maintaining the inflow of customers through the doors or turning a profit. Bar owners have to deal with several uncertainties, such as whether they will be able to pay back the startup costs or whether the business will still be flourishing after ten years. 

But apart from these obvious questions, they also have to look into the legal risks of owning a bar. Bar owners tend to have a legally vulnerable job role, and they may have to face a unique set of legal issues. 

These watering holes can be dark, loud, and exciting, which makes them unpredictable for every day of the week. The pub employees and clientele can open the doors to several mishaps and increase the chances of potential legal risks. These are the most common lawsuits a bar can face during everyday operations. 

Alcohol Consumption Risks 

The risks related to alcohol consumption are the most obvious ones that a bar can face. The business can be held responsible for unruly behaviour or actions resulting from the consumption of alcohol. For example, the customers may get into a fight with another patron or a person outside the bar and end up injuring them. 

The establishment that served them alcohol can be held responsible even if the incident takes place elsewhere. Drunk driving is another common occurrence, and an accident caused by an intoxicated patron can result in a serious lawsuit against the bar. 

‘Dram Shop’ laws exist in 43 American states and prohibit an alcohol-serving business to serve a person who is clearly intoxicated. That establishment can also face lawsuits due to noise complaints registered by neighbours, police, or local authorities. They can be even more expensive to deal with if they reach the liquor licensing authorities. 

Therefore, bar owners should train the staff adequately to prevent such incidents. They should also contact legal services that have a thorough understanding of liquor and hospitality legislation. Acquiring liquor liability insurance is another crucial step to deal with such lawsuits. 

Injury Risks 

The food and beverage industry is largely driven by customer satisfaction, making the workplaces a high-pressure environment. The employees are to operate at a rapid pace, which increases the chances of injuries in bars. Some of the most common body injuries that occur are as follows: 

• Slips and falls 
• Cuts and lacerations 
• Burns and scalds 
• Sprains 

These injuries can happen to employees or customers and result in expensive lawsuits. Therefore, bar owners should ensure that they follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards at the workplace and introduce a safety program. 

They should also ensure that the employees are trained to avoid injuries at the workplace, including safety procedures, equipment handling, and operating in a high-pressure environment. Bar owners also need to have the right Workers Compensation insurance, as it is mandatory in most American states. They should also have the appropriate Business Liability insurances to cover them in case of accidents. 

Cybersecurity Lawsuits 

Every business needs to build a customer database these days to become successful. These databases usually contain sensitive contact information. Apart from that, bars may also have credit card details of customers in their system. 

The establishment might face an expensive cybersecurity lawsuit if these databases get attacked by malware or ransomware. Hackers can steal all the sensitive data or hold it and ask the establishment to pay a ransom. 

There have been instances where malware funnelled the information collected from the magnetic strips of debit or credit cards swiped at bars and restaurants. Such instances can leave an establishment open to lawsuits. 

Therefore bar owners should hire a professional IT company to set up an adequately secured network to protect sensitive data. They can also obtain cybersecurity liability insurance to cover them in case of a lawsuit. 

Media Copyright Lawsuits 

Every bar owner has to play music or videos at their establishments to keep the customers entertained. They also have to pay for media licenses to offer these additional entertainments to the patrons. Failure to obtain an appropriate media license can even attract a 6-figure fine. 

Therefore, bar owners should pay the ASCAP/BMI licensing fees according to the requirements to play background music or videos. These licenses are especially applicable for bars that charge a cover fee or have a dance floor. 

Bar owners should also ensure that the team members do not play their personal playlists on the premises. They should only play music or covers that are members of the licensing organization. The videos played at a bar should not contain a specific indication for home viewing only. 

Foodborne Illness Lawsuits 

A foodborne illness lawsuit can be the bar owner’s worst nightmare. They might get a call from the health inspector and a series of claims. Foodborne illnesses from food and beverage establishment can result in legal fees and loss of revenue. 

That is why pub owners should train their teams to follow the food safety programs set forth by the FDA and the National Restaurant Association so they don't get sued. Chefs and other kitchen employees should always follow the required cooking techniques and Ford management protocols. 

These lawsuit risks can make any bar owner or restaurateur feel nervous about opening an establishment. However, these business owners should instead be motivated to take appropriate action and put adequate measures in place to mitigate the risks of being sued.

Bootstrap Business Blog Newest Posts From Mike Schiemer, Partners, & Blog Outreach Services