Many people like to entertain guests over the holiday season, and holiday parties can be great fun for everyone. Unfortunately, things can also go wrong at holiday parties. When guests get hurt or hurt others, tragedy can result and the homeowner or host of the party can be held legally responsible for the consequences.
To keep your guests safe and to protect yourself from legal trouble, our Highland personal injury attorneys have a few tips for you about how to be a responsible party host.
Keeping Guests Safe In Your Home
One area where potential legal liability arises is premises liability law. This area of law says that when you invite people over, you have a duty to them. You have the duty to keep them safe from any possible dangers that exist in your home that you either know about or ought to know about. You can do this by correcting the hazard, whenever it is feasible to do so, or by warning your guests that the hazard exists. If you fail to do this and your visitors get hurt, you can be sued. This includes dog bites or other injuries caused by household pets.
As a practical matter, this means when you’re throwing a holiday party, part of being a good host is to repair anything dangerous in your home or to tell your guests about problems. For example, an icy walk should be shoveled so no one slips, and a broken railing either needs to be repaired or pointed out as a possible danger.
Keeping Guests and Others Safe on the Streets
Your responsibility for your guests does not end at your doorstop in Indiana. Indiana has laws commonly known as social host laws. Social host laws are a form of dram shop law; dram shop laws apply to make bar and restaurant owners responsible for serving alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated or who is a minor.
Under Indiana’s social host laws, it isn’t just those who sell alcohol who are responsible for the consequences of their choice. People who have parties or provide alcohol to guests, even those over 21 years of age, can become liable to the victim of an accident.
As a homeowner or individual throwing a holiday party, you can become responsible if:
- You serve alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated or who you should know is intoxicated.
- Your decision to serve this alcohol is a direct or proximate cause of injury or death.
This means that if someone is drunk, you give him alcohol and the individual leaves your house and is involved in a drunk driving crash, you could potentially become legally liable for paying damages.
How to Be a Good Host and Avoid Legal Liability
No one wants to be sued because of a holiday party. As such, when you invite guests over this season:
- Do a basic inspection of your house to make sure there’s nothing dangerous that could cause injury. If you have any obvious hazards, correct them or be sure to warn your guests.
- Either limit the alcohol that you serve, have guests stay over, or find out at the start of the night who the designated driver is.
- Supervise any parties thrown by your teenager to make sure there is no alcohol and that no one leaves your house drunk.
By following these tips, hopefully all of your guests will stay safe both at your party and on the way home and you won’t find yourself starting the New Year facing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Attorney Burton A. Padove represents car accident victims. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, call (219) 836 2200 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Highland Injury Attorneys & Your Risks of an Autumn Traffic Accident, Indiana Injury and Family Lawyer Blog, October 30, 2012