Going out for a night on the town at a club or bar hopping with friends is one of life's most sought-after, simple pleasures. So, when you think about all the time and money spent each year in this hospitality industry, you may not be surprised that are some negative experiences reported. If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these, you may be looking to sue the bar or club in small claims court.

Whether it's alcohol poisoning, an injury, or an employment issue (workplace injury for example), small claims court can be a very easy option to take to recover damages. This article will explain how to sue a bar or nightclub in small claims court.

Dispute can help you generate, notarize and file a case within minutes from your phone or computer.

Take Action in Small Claims

One of the most accessible legal forums is Small Claims Court, where you can sue a company or individual for up to $10,000 in most states without the need for a lawyer. Small Claims Court offers you the opportunity to explain your complaint to a judge who has the power to order the other party to pay you the money that is owed.

In addition, Small Claims Court has additional benefits for the layman seeking legal action:

  • Small Claims Court Processes and procedures are generally simpler to follow than other more formal courts
  • Small Claims Court Filings are cheaper than filing in other courts
  • Lawyers are not usually allowed in Small Claims Courts.
  • The process is fast. You can usually expect a hearing within 1-2 months after your filing.

Reasons to Sue a Bar:

You may want to think about the reasons you considered suing a bar. In the past, people have sued for the following reasons:

  • Personal Injury - Injuries that occur at the bar or club's property often happen each year and are a major source of small claims lawsuits.
  • Assault - Bars that serve alcohol are responsible (legally) for not over-serving their guests. You might consider suing if a fight breaks out because a guest was over-served and you were injured.
  • Alcohol Poisoning - Bars are beholden to local laws about not overserving guests. You may consider using if you were poisoned due to the bar's negligence when it came to their serving of alcohol (or food.)
  • Workers Compensation - Bars can be a fast, dynamic environment that takes a physical toll on their employees. You may have a case if you were injured on the job and a worker's compensation claim was denied.
  • Negligence - This means the business has failed to behave or perform with a level of care an ordinary person would expect. If this has happened to you, you may have a case.

How to Sue a Bar Yourself

It's important to note that the process can vary from state to state. But typically, suing in small claims court involves the following:

  • Write and Send a Demand Letter - Many courts ask that you send (and show proof) of a short, one-to-two-page formal request that lets the recipient know that they’ll face legal action if they don’t comply.
  • Fill Out the Court Forms - Each court has different forms required to file a case with them. Some states (such as California) have one form that covers the whole state, while others (such as Florida) have different forms depending on the location of the court. Don't forget you'll need to sign these forms and possibly have them notarized as well.
  • File the Forms with the Court - You'll need to either access their online portal or head to the courthouse directly to file your completed forms. Often, the court asks you to bring multiple copies so they can distribute the filing appropriately and they always charge some type of filing fee. The price of this fee varies ($25 - 400 depending upon the courthouse) and it can be awarded back to you if you win the case.
  • Serve the Defendant - If your case is accepted, most courthouses will ask that you "serve" the other party. This means you are notifying the defendant that a hearing is going to occur and the reason for it.
  • Attend your Hearing - After all that is said and done, you'll want to prepare for court and then attend your scheduled hearing where you'll present your case. Hopefully, the judge is empathetic toward your issue, and rules in your favor.

You may notice that even if filing in Small Claims Court is easier, it can take up a lot of your time. That's not to mention the time you may lose repeating a step or two if you accidentally do something wrong.

Whereas, if you use Dispute, you can generate a demand letter and small claims document within minutes from your phone or computer. We will connect you with the right forms from the courthouse you choose, and even file them on your behalf.

How to Sue a Bar Using Dispute

Here’s how you can file a small claim case with Dispute in a few easy steps:

1. Head to our website to access our software:

2. Click "Get Started" and choose the "Small Claims" service (or another if you'd like to start somewhere else).

3. Enter your case information including your info, the defendant's info and a summary of the issue.

4. Choose the courthouse where you want to file, answer their form's specific questions, and sign the document.

Now you're on your way to preparing and filing a case directly with the court from your phone or computer.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who is the Registered Agent?

  • The Registered Agent may vary depending on who you're filing against, and where you are filing. It's best to check with the Secretary of State's database wherever the business is registered to check for this information.

Do I need a lawyer for Small Claims Court?

  • Not necessarily. One of the easier things about small claims court is that lawyers aren’t usually required. This may make the small claims process less intimidating and more affordable. But, still, the small claims process can get complicated. Consider filing through Dispute, as we simplify the small process with our software.

How much does it cost to file a Small Claims Case?

  • Court Filing Fees: The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit depends on how much you are suing for and where you are suing. You can expect to pay between $30 to $400 to file the lawsuit. _If you cannot afford to pay court fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees.  ‍_Dispute charges a small fee to help generate, sign and/or file any documents on your behalf.
  • Serving Costs: Once the lawsuit is filed, you must notify the company that you have sued them. This is called "serving." Serving Costs can range from $20-100 depending on the local area.

Can I sue for "Duty of Care"?

  • "Duty of Care" is the legal obligation to provide service without performing acts that could harm others. You will want to check with local consumer laws to see if you are protected by a "duty of care" policy.

Can I sue a bouncer?

  • Bouncers are not protected against assault claims while working for a bar or nightclub. If you think the bouncer has caused you harm, you may have a case against them or their employer.

If you have any questions about filing a small claims case against a bar or accessing Dispute's software, please reach out and contact us.