Social Host Liability
It’s that time of year again- Holiday parties and family get togethers. It is also the time of year when people are more social and therefore are sometimes drinking more. One question I am often asked as an Ontario personal injury lawyer concerns social host’s responsibility. Many people want to know if they are hosting a party what are they legally responsible for. No one wants to think this way, but it is a reality.
What are the legally responsible for as a host of a party?
If someone attedns your party and becomes injured, the question will be whether the personal injuries suffered by the accident vicitms could have been reasonably foreseen by the host. If the host did not know – nor ought to have known – that their guest was intoxicated, then one can agree that they could not have known that htey were at risk of an injury. This would mean the host of the party would not be responsible. In other words, as a host , you would hav eto prove that you had no idea your guest was intoxicated. This may be difficult to prove if you were serving alcohol.
When a host is aware their guest is intoxicated, the host may have the legal responsibility to ensure that their guest who is intoxicated not drive. In other words, as a party host, when you know that a guest is intoxicated and intends to drive, STOP THEM. Offer them a taxi home, find a designated driver to take them home or allow them to sleep over. You can also be held legally responsible if you continue to serve alcohol to an intoxicated guest knowing that they would be driving home. It’s not unlike when a bartender cuts off an intoxicated patron.
It’s common sense, you never want anyone being placed in a dangerous situation. As a host you have the extra responsibility of ensuring that your guests depart safely and are free of injury. Do whatever it takes….you will never regret airing on the side of being overly cautious …Happy holidays!