It is no secret alcohol can cause some people to become more aggressive and angry. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions, causes us to become more susceptible to emotional highs and lows, and impairs our ability to make rational decisions. The effects alcohol has on us is especially apparent in the bar setting where alcohol is easy to get, abundant, and there are tons of people around us (some people may not care for). Unfortunately, sometimes tempers flare and the all too common bar fight occurs. In those bar fights, drinking and decreased inhibitions can cause intoxicated persons to severely injure a victim in a bar fight from not being able to judge their own strength and not stopping the fight or beating.
Those attacked and injured by an over-aggressive bar patron while trying to enjoy their time at the bar may be able to look beyond just the aggressor to compensate them for the wrongs that were done. The bar owners (company and/or persons) may also be held liable depending on the circumstances.
In 1934, Missouri repealed its dram shop liability act. Therefore, the mere furnishing of alcoholic beverages to a person can no longer be claimed to be the proximate cause of someone’s injuries. However, under Missouri Revised Statute 537.053(2), “a cause of action may be brought by or on behalf of any person who has suffered personal injury or death against any person licensed to sell intoxicating liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the seller knew or should have known that intoxicating liquor was served to a person under the age of twenty-one years or knowingly served intoxicating liquor to a visibly intoxicated person.”
Thus, bars can be held liable for serving an underage person who then gets into a bar fight. This is especially important for “college bars” that serve predominantly college-age people, some of whom are underage. Furthermore, bar fights may be more common among younger people drinking heavily with their friends, and there tends to be a little more “drama” in college communities that can lead to physical altercations, as compared to typical restaurants/bars .
Also, bars can be held liable under the Missouri statute if they over-serve a patron. This is where the “visibly intoxicated” language comes into play. According to Missouri law, “a person is ‘visibly intoxicated’ when inebriated to such an extent that the impairment is shown by significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction.”
While many people think that a person’s blood-alcohol content is conclusive evidence someone is visibly intoxicated, Missouri’s law holds “a person’s blood alcohol content does not constitute prima facie evidence to establish that a person is visibly intoxicated within the meaning of this section, but may be admissible as relevant evidence of the person’s intoxication.” But, it does not take as much alcohol as one might think for a person to become visibly intoxicated. At a BAC of .08, Missouri law presumes a person is intoxicated, but visible signs typically begin at a level slightly higher than that, although they tend to differ by the person. Thus, it could take as little as 5-6 drinks for a person to become visibly intoxicated.