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Holiday Party Hosts Better Watch Out - You Could Be Liable for Injuries Drunken Guests Cause. (10 Things You Need to Know)

If you plan on being the holiday host or hostess with the mostest this season, here's something you should know.

If your mostest includes alcohol and your guests overindulge, you could potentially be on the hook if they wreck their car and kill or injure someone. As a matter of fact, you could be held liable if they trip over a tree root while stumbling home and chip a tooth.

In North Carolina you can be held responsible for whatever happens to your drunken guests after they leave your party. If it's bad enough, you could find yourself ringing in the New Year with unwanted legal fees and court costs.

You might think your friend wouldn't sue you over their own drunken negligence. Perhaps not. But those they injure sure could - especially if they had a good North Carolina personal injury lawyer. If my client was seriously injured because of the negligence of another, I'd go after each and every negligent party I could find.

Whether it's a holiday party, Super Bowl party, or a back-yard brunch, you don't want to be held liable because your guest caused personal injury. I've seen these types of situations ruin lives in certain instances.

How Is a Party Host Liable in NC?

Liability extends to anyone who provides alcohol to guests. North Carolina law says that when an intoxicated guest causes an injury or accident, the injured person may be able to seek damages from the host if they:

  • Provided or served alcohol
  • Knew or even should have known the person served was drunk
  • Knew the person would be driving after drinking alcohol served at the party

Let's say, for example, you had a holiday open house at your new home in Winston-Salem. A guest who lives in Greensboro is among the first to arrive and the last to leave. You really haven't paid much attention to how many times you've refilled his glass. When he's ready to drive home, it doesn't occur to you that he may be impaired, because he seems coherent and alert. And besides, you assume that he's responsible enough to sober up before driving back to Greensboro. On his drive home he crosses over the center line of Route 421 at Willow Bend and crashes head on with a mini van carrying a young family. Thankfully no one is killed, but all of them sustained significant injuries. The driver was blinded by the airbag chemicals, the mom broke her back in three places, and one of the three children in the backseat sustained a severe concussion from which she will never recover.

Don't think for one minute that family isn't going to get a good North Carolina personal injury lawyer to try to sue him and you for everything they could possibly get. With all the medical bills they'll have to pay - and significant time out of work for mom and dad for their injuries - they'll need every penny that's potentially coming to them.

Do you really want that responsibility on your shoulders? Unless you have a whopping umbrella policy, you could possibly lose just about everything you own. Life for everyone - including you - will never be the same.

It's just not worth the risk.

If you're planning a holiday party this season, here's a list you'll want to check twice before your guests enjoy that first glass of holiday cheer.

10 Ways to Minimize Your Liability When Hosting a Holiday Party

  1. Consider using a professional bartender who is used to recognizing early signs of
  2. Serve food with proteins and fats which can help absorb the effects of alcohol.
  3. Offer a variety of soft drinks, coffee, tea, and water in addition to alcohol.
  4. Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before you expect guests to begin leaving.
  5. Have an Uber, Lyft, taxi number, or app handy or at least one or more designated driver services throughout North Carolina (some will even take the guest's car home). Why not provide a designated driver for them if your guests live close by?
  6. Ask one or two of your guests to monitor the crowd for potential problems and to take the initiative to offer rides to those who seem to need it.
  7. Make sure your guests know you want them to have fun, but to act responsibly.
  8. If you see a guest that's suspect, take their keys if you have to. (Remember friends don't let friends drive drunk.)
  9. Encourage your guests to wear their seatbelts while driving home. If they're involved in a car crash, they'll be better protected.
  10. Be open to overnight stays if an intoxicated guest cannot get a ride home. An air mattress is cheaper than a lawsuit.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident as a result of a drunk driver - or any driver - contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

 

P.S. Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

 

*Insurance Research Council, 1999.

In 2006, Cali Schmitt joined the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin as a Bilingual Case Manager and was quickly promoted to Bilingual Litigation Paralegal and later became a Bilingual Personal Injury Attorney. She currently assists both English and Spanish-speaking clients with their personal injury, workers' compensation and Social Security Disability claims.

Ms. Schmitt received her J.D. from North Carolina Central University. She received her B.A. in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has lived in many parts of the world and has done extensive volunteer work. As an attorney, she is passionate about helping those who are traditionally without power due to a lack of income, education or English-language skills.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

5848-100 Faringdon Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

517 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28304
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

201 McCullough Drive, Suite 220
Charlotte, NC 28262
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Greenville Law Office

702 G Cromwell Dr.
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

214 South William Street, Suite 3
Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: (919)-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

3202 Sunset Avenue, Suite B
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078