Bars, clubs, and other establishments hire individuals to provide security services. But there’s a limit to the measures they can take. Unnecessary force, restraint, or detention are illegal. Nonetheless, in certain situations, you may wonder how far is too far. We’ll look at the legal limitations to answer the question, “Are bouncers allowed to touch you?”
What Does a Bouncer Do?
A bouncer is hired for security purposes. They are not security officers with any special license; in fact, a bouncer is an ordinary civilian. An employee of an establishment, their job is to maintain order. The bouncer at a club can try to quiet an individual, de-escalate a situation, or break up a fight. But they don’t have any special privileges with regard to law enforcement.
A bouncer can legally:
- Ask someone to leave a bar or club.
- Refuse to let a visibly intoxicated person into an establishment.
- Detain a person who is committing a crime (citizen’s arrest).
When Can a Bouncer Use Force?
Physical contact or force is not legally permitted unless the situation calls for it. If another individual hits the bouncer, self-defense laws apply and the bouncer can hit back. Generally, they can match the force that was used against them (reasonable force). This means if they’re punched in the face, punching that person in response is reasonable, not hitting them over the head with a bottle. This would be considered unreasonable under the law.
That being said, a bouncer cannot hit you if you refuse to leave the bar. They’re not legally authorized to forcibly remove an individual from an establishment (they must call the police to do so). But if a fight breaks out, a bouncer is allowed to touch you. They can use force to protect others. For example, this might require tackling an offender or pinning them down even if they weren’t a direct threat to the bouncer.
Can a Bouncer Be Liable for False Imprisonment?
Restraining a person without justification can make the bouncer liable for false imprisonment. Examples include confining the individual for any period of time and expressing the intent of restraining them. The victim must also be aware they were being confined.
False imprisonment is defined as:
- An intentional detaining of a person.
- The person believed they were restrained.
- Physical force or the threat, fear, or apprehension of the use of force.
- Restraint for any amount of time, even a few moments.
- The patron didn’t agree to voluntarily accompany the bouncer.
Can I Sue a Bouncer?
You can sue a bouncer for unnecessary force or false imprisonment. That includes if they previously thought they had the legal authority to do so, and the court later determined they did not. Although it’s not the only situation in which a bouncer can be liable, unnecessary touching can be considered assault, so you could have a claim of civil assault or battery or even report it to the police.
Filing a lawsuit against a bouncer may not be worthwhile if they have limited financial resources or they have a strong self-defense claim. The circumstances of the situation, the extent of the person’s injuries, and other factors can determine whether a lawsuit is justified. In some situations, one may consider suing the bouncer’s employer; the establishment can be held liable for negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent retention depending on the circumstances.
A Skilled Attorney Can Steer You In the Right Direction
If a bouncer touched you or used unnecessary force, a personal injury attorney can review the facts and determine whether you stand to recover significant damages in a lawsuit. A lawyer can determine whether sue the bouncer or the establishment that hired them. If so, they may pursue a settlement or represent you in court to obtain a judgment and monetary award.
Contact The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani
“Are bouncers allowed to touch you?” is a question many bar and club patrons have asked. If a bouncer used unnecessary force, you could sue them or file a negligence claim against their employer. We’ve won many types of cases for clients throughout California. When you’ve been injured by a bouncer or anyone else, you can count on our Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to fight for justice. For your free consultation, contact us online or call 888-952-2952.