Girls jumping into a fight?

by Anonymous
(Missouri)

My son was in a fight outside a bar after closing. Two girls that were sisters kept jumping into the fight. One of the girls was pushed back a few times and eventually fell back and hit her head. The other girl was pushed/fell to the ground, hurting her wrist.

The girl who fell and hit her head had been drinking a lot that night and had been in a fight with a girl inside the bar and was asked to leave.

The police arrived and asked if anyone was hurt and the girls said no. The police were called during my son's fight. The police asked if anyone was hurt and everyone, including the girls said no. When the police left, the girls continued to get into arguments with the different people involved in the fight, and witnesses saw them pushing one of the guys and jumping on his back.

The girls sought medically attention later in the morning. One of the girls had a small fracture in her wrist and the other had an MRI for possible head injury. Now the girls have filed a personal injury lawsuit against my son, another man and the bar for personal injury.

If the girls jumped into a fight with 2 big men, shouldn't they be responsible for their own injuries? What's everyone's liability in this scenario? How can my son defend against this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Girls jumping into a fight?":

Anonymous (Missouri):

The State of Missouri follows a "Pure Comparative Fault" legal doctrine. Learn more about pure comparative fault here. This doctrine basically means the amount of a victim's personal injury settlement or court award is reduced by the percentage of the victim's own negligence.

Under your set of facts there are several scenarios...

1. If the two sisters jumped into the fight to defend a third party, whether it was a boyfriend, friend, or even a stranger from injury, then the sisters were likely innocent victims. If so, and your son injured them, your son may be wholly liable for their injuries and resulting damages.

2. Presuming the sisters were intoxicated, even though they may have been defending a third party from injury, the sisters' intoxication would be considered a form of comparative negligence. That comparative negligence would reduce the amount of injury settlement or court award by the percentage their negligence.

3. If the sisters jumped into the fight not for the purpose of defending an innocent third party, but instead to aid a boyfriend, friend or stranger in an effort to prevail against your son, then the sisters would likely be entitled to little or no compensation for their damages.

4. The bar owner will not be liable if the fight took place on or off the bar owner's property. Commonly referred to as "Dram Shop Laws," some states hold bar owners liable for injuries sustained on or off the premises if it can be shown the bar owner or an employee continued to serve intoxicated persons after the bar owner or employee knew, or should have known the person they continued to serve was intoxicated.

However, Missouri does not have a pure dram shop law. This means bar owners can not be held liable for injuries caused by intoxicated persons, UNLESS the bar owner or an employee knew, or should have know the patron being served was under the age of 21. Then the bar owner may be liable, even if the minor was not intoxicated.

For more information, see Missouri Revised Statute Section 537.053.1

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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