Everyone looks forward to a good holiday party but it’s worth keeping the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” in mind as you prepare to host, especially if you’re planning to serve alcohol. Massachusetts courts have recognized the existence of “social host liability” to third persons injured by an intoxicated person who leaves a gathering where the person hosting (the social host) knew, or should have known, that his or her guest had too much to drink.
Read our post on Massachusetts social host laws to learn more about how you, as the host, could face potential liability for alcohol-related injuries that can be tied back to your event.
Our attorneys put together 10 tips for party hosts to consider in order to avoid potential legal claims.
- Be sure to offer non-alcoholic beverages and water to keep guests hydrated. Nibbles and snacks may keep guests from overindulging and help mitigate the effects of alcohol.
- Consider hosting your party at a restaurant or other establishment that has a liquor license (to remove your liability) and where experienced bartenders and servers can spot those who have had too much.
- Hire a professional bartender to come to your house to help monitor overindulgence.
- Make sure the alcohol is served in a designated bar area so it’s more easily monitored.
- Assign or identify the designated sober drivers for the night and encourage your guests to make use of them. If no one wants to volunteer, make sure inebriated guests get a rideshare for the way home.
- Consider collecting car keys as guests arrive so that it’s easier to ensure everyone is safe to drive at the end of the night.
- Set a time for Last Call. After that, you can use other drinks to substitute for alcoholic ones to help avoid intoxicated driving.
- Enlist your friends to help keep a friendly eye on consumption and remind people to drink responsibly.
- Let guests who are clearly in no state to drive stay overnight.
- Properly secure or restrict any alcohol you have in your home from your children, and be aware of any parties or get-togethers they might be throwing for or with their friends.
The team at Parker Scheer has extensive experience pursuing cases under the Massachusetts social host law.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of alcohol consumption at a party, you can contact a member of our team today.