Much attention has been placed on assaults that occur at pubs and clubs, which often have tragic consequences affecting innocent bystanders as well as the individuals involved. Alcohol related violence in particular has attracted public condemnation, and is now sanctioned by tough restrictions placed on pubs and clubs.

The best known changes to the way that licensed venues operate in NSW is the 1:30am lock-out laws and 3am last drinks for pubs and clubs within the restricted zone. Bottle shops are also limited in their hours of operation, with sales ending at 10pm.  Introduced in 2014 after a string of deaths in Sydney’s Kings Cross, the laws whilst being described as ‘draconian’ have caused a significant drop in alcohol related violence.

However, even with the harsh laws and alcohol restrictions in place in NSW, nightclubs and bars can be fairly dangerous places for its patrons.

So what happens to the victims of alcohol related assaults? Can they be compensated? The answers to these questions vary and depend heavily upon the underlying circumstances of the assault/altercation.

If you have you been assaulted by a security guard or venue staff member there may be an avenue for you to claim compensation. A nightclub, pub or bar, is a business which like any other employer can be held liable for injuries caused by the fault or negligence of its employees.  Often security guards are contracted by a specialist firm and are not employees of the nightclub, so a claim might also be possible against the security company.  However, if the actions of the bouncer or staff member go beyond their employment duties (for example if they follow you down the street after you have been ejected and assault you) a claim against the employer becomes more difficult.

If you have been assaulted by another patron, you would have a potential claim against them directly.  However, it is generally uncommon for such assailants to have the means or insurance to pay compensation.  In these circumstances a claim might also be possible against the venue staff and bouncers for failing to protect you – after all that is what they are there to do.  Finally, as assault is a criminal act, a claim for government victims’ compensation should be considered.

Having established who your defendant is, the idea of seeking compensation or putting a dollar figure on your losses may seem difficult. The reality is that the misfortune associated with a violent assault can have a profound effect on your future physical and psychological wellbeing, and your capacity to work. A serious injury can significantly impact your ability to live a normal life for many years to come and without a proper investigation you may not receive the compensation you deserve.  This is why you should seek legal advice.

If you were assaulted on a night out and would like to know if you have a claim, contact Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800 to speak to one of our compensation lawyers, or make an online enquiry for a free no obligation assessment of your claim.

Written by Vladana Vracar.

Vladana is a Law Clerk in Julie Mahony’s Practice Group. Vladana can be contacted regarding a variety of personal injury claims, including assaults.  Vladana is due to be admitted as a Solicitor later this month.