Holidays often include celebrations that bring together families and friends in private homes across the country. Food, fun, talk and spirits flow generously and, to add a sobering thought, so do injuries and accidents. Itís not news to hear that increased drinking leads to increases in personal tragedies, but itís important to get reminders that individuals must be responsible for their actions. One major area of responsibility is as a party host. Hosts are given the credit for the enjoyment that their guests experience at a party. On the dark side, party-givers are also asked to bear partial or full responsibility for guests who cause damage or injury on the way home from a gathering. In other words, they may be sued for contributing to losses caused by alcohol-impaired guests.
Applying Risk Management (Common Sense) to Hosting
The good news is that the brunt of responsibility, even via lawsuits, has to be faced by the individuals who directly caused the loss. There would have to be strong evidence to support a host being held financially responsible, since any involvement is indirect. For example, Jane provides drinks to Barrie, who then plows into the side of Chrisí car and garage.
While a homeowners policy may offer coverage if a host has substantially contributed to a loss, an insurer may be able to deny a claim for a number of reasons, including:
Of course, the best course of action is to make sure that parties are thrown responsibly, are done as a social (rather than business or commercial) event, and that the chances of sending drunk guests on the road are minimized. A good host will make sure that food is available, that a liquor supply under his or her control is cut-off and that impaired friends or relatives are prevented from endangering themselves or others. No holiday celebration should end up with a lawsuit.