Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Should I be Worried About Social Host Liability this New Year’s Eve?

If you are having a New Year’s Eve party to ring in 2018, there’s a good chance you’ll be serving alcohol. Although there’s nothing wrong with guests enjoying a few adult beverages, it may be your responsibility to ensure that they do so responsibly, and that they are of legal age.

Most people are well aware that the national drinking age is 21, but did you know that you can be liable if an underage guest drinks alcohol at your party? This is true even if you didn’t serve the guest, and even if you were unaware that a minor was drinking. Commercial establishments, such as pubs and restaurants, have an official “duty of care” to patrons who consume alcohol on the premises. In the case of a house party, that duty is transferred to the host of the party (a.k.a. the social host). A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver.

As stated in the Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 138 Section 34:

”whoever furnishes any such beverage or alcohol for a person under 21 years of age shall be punished by a fine of not more than $2,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year or both. For the purpose of this section the word “furnish” shall mean to knowingly or intentionally supply, give, or provide to or allow a person under 21 years of age except for the children and grandchildren of the person being charged to possess alcoholic beverages on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged.”

Criminal, Civil, or Both?

If an intoxicated minor leaves your home and is involved in an accident that harms or kills another, you may be liable as a social host. You could face a civil lawsuit from the victim or victim’s family, and criminal charges for serving an underage child. You may also be liable if an adult guest – of legal age – causes injuries or damages after leaving a party at your home. Social host liability doesn’t only apply to cases involving underage drinking. In these cases, you would not face criminal charges, but you could find yourself at the center of a civil suit.

If you have been involved in an auto accident with a drunk driver, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the driver, as well as the establishment or social host that over-served him. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver.

Safety Tips for Social Hosts this New Year’s Eve

Don’t start the new year off by facing a civil lawsuit. If you are having a party this New Year’s Eve, the following tips will help you protect you from liability.

  • Never serve alcohol to underage guests.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you serve, and ask guests to bring their own alcohol. Although you can still be on the hook if a minor consumes his own alcohol in your home, people are likely to drink less when they bring their own alcohol.
  • Stop serving alcohol an hour or more before the party ends.
  • If you’re planning to have a large party, consider hiring a bartender.
  • If possible, don’t invite guests who have a history of drinking excessively at parties.
  • In addition to alcohol, offer plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives, such as water, soda, and sparking cider.
  • Put out lots of snacks.
  • Prior to the party, ask all guests to have a designated driver, arrange for a ride, or plan to sleep at your house.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Personal Injury Law Firm

If you have been injured by a drunk or negligent driver, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. We will analyze the details of your case and ensure that you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward. If you’ve been injured, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.