social host liability

More Than a Party: The Low Down on Social Host Liability Laws

Are you planning to throw a party?

Hosting friends and family can be a ton of fun. But, it comes with some pretty big responsibilities, especially if you’re serving alcohol.

Social host liability is a legal term that defines the criminal and civil responsibility of a host who provides alcohol to their guests.

Simply put, if something goes wrong while you’re hosting a get-together, you could be held liable. So, what are you doing to protect your guests and yourself?

Keep reading to learn about the laws behind social hosting, and what you can do to help partygoers and hosts stay safe.

What Is Social Host Liability?

Social host liability, often confused with Dram Shop Laws, is enforced in 43 US states.

The primary difference between the two laws is that one refers to businesses and the other to private hosts. But, in either case, the liability is the same.

If you provide alcoholic beverages to guests or visitors of your home or business, you could be held responsible if they go on to injure someone while intoxicated. And, depending on the circumstances, your liability could be both criminal and civil.

This means that you could potentially face a lawsuit as well as criminal charges depending on the circumstances.

In most cases, social hosts are not liable for injuries sustained by intoxicated guests, as they have also demonstrated negligence. This may not apply if you are providing alcohol to anyone who is already visibly intoxicated, or under the legal drinking age.

Are You Protected?

Your homeowner’s insurance probably includes some liquor liability coverage. But, most policies are limited to cover between $100,000 and $300,000 in damages. And, they typically come loaded with exclusions, conditions, and limitations.

Depending on your personal finances and the severity of an incident, that level of protection might not be enough. If you aren’t sure how much coverage your policy includes, you find out before hosting a party where alcohol is served.

If you make the serving of alcohol a habit at your parties and events, consider purchasing additional host liquor liability coverage. This type of insurance also covers special occasions like weddings and large parties.

Reduce Your Risks

If you are serving alcohol at a party, promoting safe consumption is your responsibility.

Guests who are overly intoxicated are more likely to get into trouble. Drunk driving, disorderly conduct, and medical emergencies like alcohol poisoning are all potential consequences.

You can reduce your liability further by hiring a professional bartender for your event, or hosting it somewhere other than your home. It’s also a good idea to serve plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and snacks to help partygoers stay sober.

Stop serving alcohol early in the night and encourage all of your guests to use a designated driver or transportation service. And, don’t get drunk yourself! Drinking responsibly goes hand in hand with serving responsibly.

Your Next Event

Now that you know the basics of social host liability, you can plan future events to minimize risk.

Before your next party or mixer, take the time to research local and state social hosting laws. They aren’t the same nationwide!

Remember, as a host; it’s your job to serve alcohol responsibly. This means never providing alcohol to minors or serving already intoxicated guests. It also includes keeping an eye on your guests and making sure everyone has a safe and fun time.

Check out our other blog posts for tons of helpful articles covering all kinds of legal subjects and advice.

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