Nothing compares to going on a night out with your best friends after a long, grueling week. But having fun doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind. You can still have one of the best nights in your life while being mindful of your limitations and rights as a clubgoer.

What can’t you do when you’re in a club? Are bouncers and bar employees well within their rights to throw you out of an establishment? Can your personal injury attorney sue an overly aggressive bouncer?

The bar or club owner has the right to throw you out or turn you away

The staff and owner have the power to throw you out for extremely rowdy behavior. If you’re causing the other patrons distress and discomfort, breaking things (intentionally or otherwise), being rude, or fighting with other people, the bouncer will tell you to leave.

They also have the right to turn you away before you even get inside. Barhoppers and clubhoppers who are way too intoxicated are some of the common types of guests bouncers turn away. They also reserve the right to refuse you if the bar is full, if you came in right before closing time, if the kitchen is closed, if you’re not complying with the house rules, or if you’re with a group of people who are just looking to sit and not buy anything. But this right is limited.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits places of public accommodation from refusing service to customers on the basis of color, religion, race, national origin, or sex. Also, bars and clubs can’t turn you away for arbitrary reasons. For example, they can’t refuse you service for having a lazy eye, and use that as a reason for saying that you’re too inebriated.

Bouncers aren’t as powerful as you think they are

Although bouncers have a number of powers, they’re not omnipotent. They can only reject and kick out customers when there’s a legitimate reason. They can also legally ask for and check your ID, issue verbal warnings, call the police on you, stop fights they’re not involved in, and respond with equal force if necessary.

The media portrays bouncers in movies as extremely physical and violent, but excessive force is illegal. They can only use force if the customer throws the first punch. But even then, they can’t kick or punch you, put you in a choke hold or joint lock, or push or physically throw you out of the establishment. Bouncers are also legally not allowed to use weapons or even pepper spray against you.

You have the right sue bar or club staff for assault or negligence

Given the bouncer’s limited powers, you can file a complaint if any of the bar staff steps out of line. For example, if an employee was overly aggressive and you got hurt, you may have a valid claim for assault and/or battery.

Take note that assault and battery are different. Assault means intentionally causing another person fear that there’s an imminent bodily injury or physical contact. So, when you see the bouncer throw the punch or extend his arms to push you, that’s an assault. But if there’s actual physical contact, that’s the battery.

You also have the right to sue the bar for negligence if you sustain an injury in the establishment. For example, you’re partying in Miami in a new venue and you slipped and fell due to a spilled drink that the staff left forgot to clean. This may be grounds for negligence under Florida Law’s premises liability.

Some days, you just need to party. But make sure your good time isn’t affecting someone else’s, and that you’ll get home safe and sound. If things get out of hand, though, you do have a legal recourse.

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