Am I liable when I host a party?

Is there insurance for parties?

Yes there is. When you give a party in your home then your renters or homeowners insurance is going to be first to be brought to the table if you have a claim.

There is a specialty insurance you can buy that is to pay claims that come out of damage being done to the building where any party is being held. As well, this insurance will pay claims that arise out of the consumption of liquor. You have to buy this insurance for each and every event so it rarely is used for home parties.

Your home insurance covers certain injuries that could happen to a guest in your home. This would be everything from slipping on the front sidewalk to a loose railing causing a fall inside the house.

Liquor liability and claims

Impaired drivers?

The biggest concern for being sued is the focus on impaired driving. Your buddy has a few too many and then drives home. On the way he gets into an accident and someone has been hurt. You know the police are going to be all over him like "white on rice" and there will be no tolerance for his actions.

Buddy has insurance on his car. This shouldn't affect me! When Buddy drove his car while impaired he has committed a criminal offense. The liability will be reduced to the absolute minimum, $200,000 and that is all that will be available for his injury to persons or their property. Where will the rest of the money come from? That's right, you! You can be sued in civil court under the Dramshop Law.

What can you do to prevent your friends from getting behind the wheel and driving home drunk from your party? Try some of the following steps:

Planning the party

Safer liquor service

More things to consider when planning your party

We've all been at the party when someone who has had too much to drink is doing something potentially dangerous to themselves or others. If this happens then you have to do what is necessary to protect them and others from their actions. This is where it can get difficult. You need to be careful about getting physical but simply saying "don't" may not protect you in a lawsuit. This is a fine line that you must be careful about crossing. Think ahead about how you might handle such a situation. Humor will often work well.

A guest does not have to be driving to suffer injury or to cause injury to others. You need to be vigilant. Keep an eye on what is going on and steer the situation to a safer area or situation as necessary.

Have some accommodation for an unexpected overnight guest. There are some very inexpensive portable beds that can be quickly assembled for the friend who really shouldn't be traveling that night.

If necessary you may have to really insist that a person not drive that night. A friend does not let a friend drive drunk. It is a danger to society, to your friend and to yourself. Do not let someone drink and drive.

Yes, you can buy party alcohol liability insurance but do you want to do this every time you host a party? You certainly might for the large events such as a wedding, ball tournament or company Christmas party but not every time you have a group of friends over for the evening.

Even if your friend has only had a couple of drinks at your house when he goes on from there to the next house party he could have more drinks. You can be held responsible for your share of the liquor he consumed. Do you want to lose your home and all you have worked for because of his actions?

Be aware that this is a judgment call - did you contribute to your guest's drunken condition? Is there evidence that you did all that was reasonable to prevent the bad situation from occurring? Do you really want this to end up in a courtroom with you trying to defend yourself?