How to determine liability for injuries regarding a bar fight?

UPDATED: Apr 16, 2013

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How to determine liability for injuries regarding a bar fight?

My son was punched in a bar. To defend himself, he wrestled his attacker to the ground. During all this an nearby bystander was somehow pushed or fell and sustained severe injuries. Now the bystander’s father wants to hold my son responsible. My son and the bystander are friends, and they are both over 21. The police were not called and the attacker has not been identified. Does my son have any responsibility for his friend’s injuries?

Asked on April 16, 2013 under Personal Injury, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your son may be liable:

1) "Self-defense" applies against the attacker in a fight--not against third parties who just happen to be in the area, so this would not present a defense.

2) If a reasonable person would conclude that it was negligent, or careless, to start wrestling in a crowded bar, then you son would be liable for the bystander's injuries.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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