Lawyers for Security Guard Assaults in New Jersey

Security guards and bouncers are employed to maintain a difficult balance. They are called on to use force in certain situations, like protecting people from unruly guests, ejecting drunken patrons, and preventing other crimes.

But sometimes it goes too far.

Security guards are not above the law, whether they work in a crowded nightclub, a shopping center, a hospital, or a music venue. Bouncers and security officers must do their work in a non-negligent manner. And although most courts agree that security personnel are entitled to a certain amount of force, that amount of force must be reasonable and appropriate for the situation.

What is Assault?

According to New Jersey Statutes Title 2C, one could be found guilty of simple assault if he or she purposefully, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to someone else, attempts to cause bodily injury to someone else, negligently causes injury to someone with a deadly weapon, or attempts by physical menace to put someone else in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

In more serious cases, simple assault can be upgraded to aggravated assault. A defendant could face aggravated assault charges if he or she:

  • Purposely or knowingly causes serious bodily injury to another, or attempts to do so.
  • Shows extreme indifference to the value of human life while recklessly causing injury.
  • Purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon, or attempts to do so.
  • Points a firearm at someone with extreme indifference to the value of human life, whether or not the defendant believes it is loaded.

The assault charges will vary based on the severity of the victim’s injuries and whether or not a weapon was used.

Assault turns into battery when there is physical contact. A raised fist is enough to qualify as assault, but it becomes battery when someone is actually struck.

When assaulted by private security, plaintiffs often choose to sue the overall bar, nightclub, or establishment. This falls under premises liability, which states that a property owner can be held responsible for keeping the premises safe for invitees and preventing foreseeable injuries. Employees, such as bouncers or security personnel, are under the umbrella of premises liability; if a patron is injured as a result of an employee’s negligence, the employee can be found liable for the injury.

Bouncers and security guards can also be held liable as negligent security. This distinction is often applied when security personnel fail to step in and prevent one patron from injuring another, such as in a bar fight.

If you believe you or a loved one was injured by negligent security, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

When is a Security Guard or Bouncer Liable for Assault?

Intent is irrelevant when it comes to negligence cases. If security officers injure a patron by being careless or reckless, they can be found liable for the injuries—regardless of whether or not they meant to cause harm.

In most cases, security guards and bouncers are employed by an establishment to provide security services. Employers can be held vicariously liable for their employees’ actions if the actions are found to be negligent. Vicarious liability often applies when security personnel were acting “within the scope of their employment.” (If the actions were particularly unreasonable or egregious, employers can often avoid vicarious liability by arguing the employee was acting outside of the standards set by employment.)

New York and New Jersey follow the “No One Free Crime” rule. That is, when it comes to premises liability, the property owner has “to take reasonable steps to minimize the foreseeable danger to those unwary souls who might venture on to the premises.”

The New York Court of Appeals says that foreseeability means “past experience that there is a likelihood of conduct on the part of third persons…which is likely to endanger the safety of the visitor.” Many casinos and bars fall under this umbrella of foreseeability, requiring them to provide adequate security and minimize foreseeable danger.

How Can You Prove Liability?

Proving liability in a personal injury case depends on whether you plan to sue the employee or the employer. Individual employees are sometimes unable to fully compensate the injured person, and each unique circumstance will dictate the most prudent civil suit to pursue.

To prove liability for a nightclub, music venue, or other employer, you must prove the following to win a negligent security or negligent hiring claim:

  • Breach of duty: Failure to exercise a level of reasonable care constitutes a breach of duty. Owners and employers have a duty to their patrons to make sure the premises are safe and guests are protected.
  • Causation: In the case of security officers, causation is often very apparent. A plaintiff must prove that the nightclub (or its staff) caused the injury in question.
  • Damages: The plaintiff must prove that he or she suffered harm or injury.

A plaintiff can potentially win damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish if an establishment is found liable.

What Should You Do if You Are Assaulted?

Personal injury suits against security personnel can be contentious cases. But security guards and bouncers are expected to act in a reasonable, non-negligent manner during work incidents.

If you suffered assault or battery at the hands of security personnel, call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi at (201) 585-9111 or contact us online. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, and we can help you recover what was lost during an unnecessarily violent encounter.

Examples of Assault by Bouncers and Security Guards

  • February 2014: Two security guards charged with assault after attacking a patron in the parking lot of a diner in Hampton Bays, New York
  • February 2014: 75-year old man assaulted by hospital security after rushing his wife to the hospital during a stroke in Bayonne, New Jersey
  • March 2014: A 55-year-old man is attacked by security at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City
  • May 2014: A civil lawsuit was filed on May 16, 2014 on behalf of Anthony Flora. The officer seen in this surveillance video viciously punched, kicked, kneed, stomped and pummeled Mr. Flora with excessive and unnecessary force. The assault in September 2012 left him with a concussion, bruised ribs, severe cuts and four fractured teeth.