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Holiday Season is The Time to Remember Social Host Liability Laws

Posted by Dan Kann | Dec 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

The holiday season means a slew of holiday parties, ranging from large formal black-tie corporate events to old friends' boisterous reunions to small family or neighborhood get-togethers. Of course this year looks a little different but parties are still happening.

There is a bunch of stuff to do if you are hosting one, from planning the food and cleaning the house, to fretting about what to wear. In all this, the last thing on your mind is the insurance risk.

Serving Alcohol at the Party?

But if you are serving alcohol at the party, there are certain things you need to consider. Apart from having fun which is the point of having the party in the first place, you need to make sure that you limit your liquor liability and your guests are safe.

This is known as ‘Social host liability'. Social host liability legally assigns civil and criminal responsibility of a host who dispenses liquor in their party to a guest. This law, applied in 43 states including California, gives someone who suffers an injury at the hands of one of the guests, the right to sue you if the guests were served liquor at your party. You may face criminal charges in such a scenario.

You may need an attorney to review your insurance policy if you plan to host a party where you may be serving alcohol. Apart from that, here are a few things you may need to consider when planning a party:

  • If possible, you may need to look at hosting the party at a bar or a restaurant that has adequate seating capacity.
  • Enquire about your guests' arrangements for driving back home from the party. Emphasize the need for designated sober drivers. Arrange for rideshare services if you feel the need. 
  • You may need to limit or totally abstain from alcohol consumption yourself. The more important thing for you to focus on as a host will be the sobriety of your guests.   
  • You may want to consider offering non-alcoholic drinks with the food at your party.   
  • Do not serve alcoholic beverages until the very end of the party. Offer desserts and coffee to your guests.

Social Host Liability Law in California

Typically, the injured person and the person responsible for causing the injury are the two parties in a personal injury case. But in a social host liability case, also known as a ‘dram shop' case, an injured person can claim damages from the host who provides alcohol to the person responsible for causing the injuries.

Under the California laws, there are substantial third-party liability limits for alcohol-related mishaps. Mostly the party hosts, bar owners, and restaurants are not liable for furnishing alcohol to their guests, or any liability claims for the accidents caused by their guests.

The Exception to Social Host Liability Law

The notable exception to the social host law is when any guest below the age of 21 years is involved. Under the exception, the social host's liability widens to cover any injuries to the underage guest as well as any injuries caused by the underage drinker to someone else, while under the influence.

Contact an Attorney here at the Kann California Law Group

If you or someone you know, has been charged under the social host liability law, do not wait. Contact our experienced attorneys at here at Kann California Law Group right now. These charges have the potential for a long-term impact on your life. Call us today at (888) 744-7730 or contact us online for a free case consultation.

About the Author

Dan Kann

Daniel E. Kann has devoted his entire legal career exclusively to defending individuals facing criminal prosecution in Southern California. Dan fights criminal cases throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.


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