Fell at bar on wet floor, cut above eye needed stitches...

by Nathan
(Green Bay, WI)

I am wondering what my buddy should do. It was the end of the night, around 2am and we were leaving the bar. There is an outside patio there, when you walk back in from outside there is a very dimly lit set of stairs (only 3 or 4 steps) back down to the main bar.

The floor was wet, and there were no caution wet floor signs, no watch your step signs, and like I said, the stairs were wet. My buddy slipped on the last step, fell and hit his face on the floor. The contact with the ground made a cut about 2 cm long above his eye and below his eyebrow. It started bleeding a lot immediately.

A bartender and bouncer helped him up, and started attending to his bleeding face. As soon as the bleeding slowed down a little bit, I got my car and took him to the hospital where he ended up getting 5 stitches to close the cut. I was wondering what he should do now? Thank you!

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Fell at bar on wet floor, cut above eye needed stitches...":

Nathan (Green Bay, WI):

The legal concept you are alluding to in your questions is Premises Liability, wherein property owners may be held liable for injuries and related damages sustained on their premises (property) by third parties. The typical premises liability injury occurs when a third party (bar patron, employee, delivery person, etc.) slips and falls.

When a bar owner's negligence results in injuries to a third party, the bar owner may be liable for the injured party's damages. Damages can include medical, dental and therapy bills, out of pocket expenses (for such items as medications, slings, crutches, wheelchairs, etc.), lost wages, and for pain and suffering.

However, bar owners aren't liable for every injury sustained by a patron or other third party legally upon the property. Bar owners are only required to exercise "reasonable care."

For example, if a bar patron slips and falls, injuring himself on spilled beer at a bar, the bar owner may not be liable if the owner or employee didn't have a reasonable amount of notice.

This means if the beer was spilled minutes before the patron slipped and fell, then the owner would likely not be liable, as he or she didn't have a reasonable amount of time to clean up the spill. However, if the bar owner or employees were aware of spilled beer on the floor, and purposely ignored the spill, then the owner would likely be liable.

There is another legal issue impacting a bar owner's liability - the comparative (contributory) negligence of the bar patron. If the patron contributes to his or her own injuries, then the bar owner's liability can be decreased according to the percentage of the patron's own negligence.

This means if it's determined the injured patron's own contributory negligence amounts to 51% or more, the patron is barred from receiving any compensation from the bar owner.

Read Wisconsin's Comparative Negligence Statute, Section 895.045

Tell your friend to ask the bar owner to contact his or insurance company so you can submit an injury claim. If the owner will not cooperate, your friend can consider filing a lawsuit in small claims court. In Wisconsin, small claims courts have jurisdiction to hear cases up to $5,000.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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