Nov 27, 2011
Here are some tips on how to have a great party while managing the risks of serving liquor. Whether you are hosting a personal party for friends and family or a business party for employees and guests, when planning a party that includes serving liquor you will want to understand your legal risk and how to protect yourself from claims. First, let’s clarify that we are talking about parties that you host (at a residence or elsewhere) where liquor/alcohol is available to your guests for free. You may provide the liquor or it could be BYOB.
You can transfer your liability to an insurance company for social host liquor liability. No matter where the party is actually held, your personal liability and/or business liability insurance goes with you. However, if you rent a location you must add that location to your policy temporarily as an “insured location” for premises liability and medical payments to apply. Remember, it is an entirely different legal and insurance matter if your venue is selling the liquor by the drink or you are paying the venue for the drinks. In that case you will want to verify that the venue has Liquor Liability Insurance for your event by receiving a Certificate of Liability as evidence. For more information click on Liquor Liability – is special coverage needed?
Social host liability is the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest. “Dram Shop Liability” laws vary widely from state to state, but 43 states have them on the books. Most of these laws offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.
“Because you can be held legally responsible for your guests’ actions after they leave your party, hosts need to be particularly careful,” said Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “While a social host is not liable for injuries sustained by the drunken guest (as they are also negligent), the host can be held liable for third parties, and may even be liable for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car.”
Source: Insurance Information Institute, News Release: Holiday Party Etiquette -Nov 21, 2011