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December 1st 2020

Preventing a Liquor Liability Lawsuit


Person holding liquor handing over car keys

Although COVID-19 may have changed your holiday plans, it hasn’t changed your duty to be a responsible host. 

During a typical Christmas season, many of us host parties where we serve alcohol. While our gatherings are limited this year, it’s still important to know your obligations to protect your guests when they drink. Here are our recommendations to reduce intoxication and prevent harm when hosting future get-togethers. 

Social Host Liability

When you host a party, you are accountable for your guests’ alcohol intake. The legal term for this responsibility is “social host liability”, and commonly called “liquor liability”. This means you could be held liable for injuries or damages caused as the result of alcohol intoxication, even after your guests leave your party. You are responsible for ensuring your guests return home safely. This obligation applies regardless of whether you are a homeowner or a tenant of a rental property. Social host liability also applies if you are an employer who hosts parties for your staff. 

For example, if an intoxicated guest attempts to drive home and gets into a car accident, you could be liable. If you didn’t prevent your guest from driving, or failed to provide them with an alternative way home such as a cab, you could be held responsible for not providing the proper duty of care. 

We tend to think of drinking and driving as the most common risk for a social host liability lawsuit but there are others. For instance, if your guest walks home and has a slip and fall accident, you could also be held responsible. You still need to ensure that your guests return home safely, such as having a sober guest drive them home.

Be a Responsible Host

Here are some tips to keep your guests safe: 

  • When your guests arrive, ask them their plan for returning home. If they don’t have a plan, you’ll be able to coordinate a way to get them home safely.
  • Prepare a space for overnight guests and have cash available for cabs.
  • Be a good host by offering a variety of non-alcoholic beverages and food. There are many great mocktail recipes your sober guests can enjoy and providing several food options can reduce intoxication.
  • Bring out the games! Keeping your guests entertained can reduce the likelihood of them leaving intoxicated.
  • Monitor your guests’ consumption of alcohol and be ready to intervene if you think someone is beyond the legal limit to drive home. 
  • Offer water, coffee and tea in the last hour of your party. You may also want to stop serving alcohol at this time.

By knowing your responsibilities as a host, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable get-together with your friends and loved ones.

If you think you may be subject to a social host liability lawsuit, or would like to initiate a liability lawsuit, our Niagara Falls personal injury lawyer can work with you. 

Campbell Law serves Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and the entire Niagara Region. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation with our knowledgeable team.

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