A Host’s Legal Responsibility from the Perspective of a Personal Injury Lawyer
Written by Cooper and Friedman on March 5, 2019
Say one is planning on having a little get together at home, an event or wedding, just how legally responsible for their guests are they?
While most of us are familiar with the concept of premises liability law, (that states one’s duty to keep invited guests safe from any possible hazards in their home that they know about or ought to know about), we don’t often think about the consequences of serving alcohol.
In addition to worrying about whether or not someone slips and falls, hosts can be held liable for the consequences of their party goers actions long after they leave the party, depending on what state they live in.
Indiana legislation includes what is called a Social Host Law. This law holds those furnishing alcohol liable in the case that their guests cause harm to others as a result of being intoxicated.
For example, say an individual throws a party and sees that one of their guests is inebriated during the party. However, they continue to allow them to drink as well as drive. If this guest gets into an accident, the victims of said accident can potentially sue the host for damages rather than the actual driver.
Social host claims are civil lawsuits. As such they are only authorized to express fault in the form of monetary damages. Therefore the host could be responsible for the medical expenses, lost wages, damaged property as well as pain and suffering of any person who was injured as the result of their guest’s intoxication.
In order to be truly held responsible, the one distributing alcohol must know two things.
1. That the person under the influence was intoxicated at the time.
2. And that their intoxication was a foreseeable cause of injuries.
Victims have 2 years to file a social host claim in the state of Indiana. They can do so whether or not they are over or under the age of 21.
The state of Kentucky however, clearly distinguishes between vendors who are licensed to serve alcohol and social hosts who provide alcohol at gatherings. While Kentucky’s statutes hold social hosts liable when serving alcohol to minors, there is no state law that allows an injured person to sue the host if they were injured as the result of an intoxicated adult who was served alcohol at the host’s private function.
Kentucky does have what is called a Dram Shop Law. This law states that claims can be taken against vendors who sell and serve alcohol if their patron injures another person when it was reasonably clear that the person served was already intoxicated at the time of serving. This is the only instance where the vendor is responsible for the harm of its patrons to a third party. Victims have only 1 year to file a dram shop claim and must be of legal drinking age. Dram shop claims are also handled as civil lawsuits.
If you or someone you love needs legal help in Kentucky or Southern Indiana, Cooper and Friedman can help. The attorneys at Cooper & Friedman in Louisville, KY have over 50 years of combined experience getting compensation for personal injury cases. For more information, including a free case consultation with a personal injury attorney, call 502-459-7555.