In some cases, physical aggression results in injuries to the ejected patron. Complaints of arm and wrist injuries and popped shoulders are common.
Such injuries may constitute grounds for a compensation claim. While venues will often attempt to pass any blame onto the third party security companies they contract, they have a responsibility to look after their patrons and provide a safe environment.
In Queensland, bouncers and other security staff don’t have any powers beyond those of an ordinary person. Security guards must be registered and may be permitted to carry a weapon while on duty, however they still don’t have the same powers as a police officer.
The role of a security guard or bouncer is to enforce the ‘house rules’ of a venue. They may use only legal means to do this and must not use excessive force.
Excessive force is any physical force beyond that which is reasonably necessary to achieve a safe and effective outcome. There is no hard and fast rule stating which actions would or would not constitute excessive force since what is “reasonable” will vary greatly depending on the situation.
It is up to the court to decide whether excessive force was used in a given situation, based on the evidence available.
A bouncer or security guard may use physical force to get you to leave a venue or shopping centre, however it must be reasonable and they are not permitted to cause you injury.
A bouncer or security guard cannot punch or strike a person unless they are facing an imminent threat of physical harm to themselves and must defend themselves. If you were hit by a bouncer for no reason, it would likely be considered use of excessive force.
Yes. A bouncer may use reasonable physical force to remove you from a venue.
Security guards may arrest you if you are caught in the act of committing a crime, however they cannot detain you. This is similar to a citizen’s arrest. They must call the police or take you to the police station as soon as possible.
Shop or venue owners can set rules and policies regarding bag or body searches as a condition of entry. However, a bouncer or security guard cannot search you or your bag without your permission. If you do not allow security staff to search you they may lawfully deny you entry in accordance with their policy.
A bouncer or security guard cannot confiscate your personal belongings.
Start by contacting the venue where the bouncer was working and inform them of the conduct or behaviour you are not happy with. If your complaint involves an assault or other criminal act you can report it to the police.
If you sustain injuries as a result of a bouncer using excessive force, the bouncer, their employer or the pub may be liable for your injuries. If you have suffered loss of income or require significant treatment as a result of the injuries it maybe worthwhile making a compensation claim.
If you sustain injuries in an altercation with a bouncer while you were intoxicated and/or you were being physically aggressive, your prospects of claiming compensation may be limited.
See also: Public liability claims
If you are assaulted by a bouncer, there are some immediate steps you can take to protect your rights and preserve evidence.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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