Navy Man Partially Blinded by Drunken Patron Receives $500,000 Settlement From Negligent Nightclub | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia personal injury law firm client lost sight in one eye, required multiple surgeries and faced an early medical discharge from the U.S. Navy after a drunken nightclub patron threw a glass that struck him in the face.

The injured enlisted sailor went to a bar and restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), with a group of friends while off duty. Shortly after the group arrived, an obviously drunk and rowdy person entered the establishment and began making unwanted advances to a woman in our client’s party.

The woman asked nightclub staff to call over security and calm or remove the drunken man. No one affiliated with the bar and restaurant took steps to protect her, and the intoxicated man continued to behave aggressively toward her.

At some point, the drunken man threw a glass at the woman in anger. She ducked, and the glass struck our client in his right eye. He immediately went blind in that eye and was transported to Norfolk General Hospital for emergency surgery. He required ongoing treatment through the military health care system and needed two additional surgeries to repair damage to his face and to restore some vision in his right eye.

Our Virginia personal injury client eventually regained limited use of his damaged eye, but he remained permanently disabled and on restricted duty for the Navy. At the time he hired our law firm, he risked being involuntarily dismissed from the service, could not see clearly at night and feared he would need to give up driving in order to protect other people on the road. More ophthalmic surgeries were also in his future.

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Key Legal Strategy

The Virginia personal injury lawyer who took this case chose to focus on the negligence of the nightclub in failing to adequately protect our client from injuries. Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol have legal duties to control or deny service to intoxicated individuals because a drunk person is more likely to assault or injure an innocent customer. More broadly, all business owners have legal responsibilities for ensuring the health and safety of customers.

Statements from our client, his friends and the nightclub staff provided evidence that the bar and restaurant may have been able to protect our client from the careless and harmful actions of the drunken patron if it had provided any real security. Our attorney also secured a written opinion from a well-respected eye doctor regarding the injured Navy sailor’s permanent loss of vision, need for lifelong medical care related to his eye injury and likely need to cut his military career short. Securing a fair settlement for major injuries often requires presenting solid evidence concerning the degree of disability, past and future lost wages, and past and future medical expenses.

The insurance company for the nightclub acknowledged that its policyholder acted negligently by admitting, serving and failing to control or remove the intoxicated man before he threw the glass that hit and injured our client. The company then agreed to settle all injury and disability claims for a payment of $500,000.

Many personal injury attorneys would not take a case like this. Our Virginia Beach-based law firm did because we proudly represent Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine clients in all types of civil lawsuits and insurance disputes. We understand the military and its disability system, and we help many clients navigate the government health care system. Also, the severity and life-altering nature of our client’s injuries demanded the payment of compensation and damages.

Whether you are active duty, retired military or a lifelong civilian, we are interested in finding ways to help injured people recover for the personal injuries inflicted by someone else’s negligence.

Staff: Staff attorney