Social Host Liability: What Hosts Need To Know When Alcohol is Involved

Tis the season for holiday parties and get-togethers. Among all the merriment, it’s important to keep safety a priority, particularly when it comes to holiday parties and the “cheer” being served.

Imagine a holiday party at the Smith’s house where Mr. Smith serves Greg, a 20-year-old college sophomore, a couple drinks. Then, an intoxicated Greg gets behind the wheel and crashes into another car on his way home. Mr. Smith is liable to Greg for his injuries and the injuries of every person in the car that Greg hit. Unfortunately, the level of harm in situations like these can have devastating effects including spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and even death.

In South Carolina, the law is clear. When an adult hosts a party and serves alcohol to underage kids, that adult is responsible for injuries to those kids and injuries to others caused by those kids. Also, if an adult hosts a party and sells alcohol (i.e. has a cash bar) then the host is responsible for injuries to their drinking age guests, as well injuries to others caused by their drinking age guests.

At Yarborough Applegate, we have helped numerous individuals and families whose lives have suffered because of reckless behavior associated with the service, sale, and consumption of alcohol. If you believe an injury is alcohol-related, it is important to act early and contact one of our attorneys to better understand the potential liability that may exist and protect your rights.

In order to keep the holidays as safe and enjoyable as possible, below are helpful tips to keep in mind.

1. Do not serve alcohol to underage guests.

If your gathering is going to have underage guests in attendance, be sure that no alcohol is served to these guests, under any circumstances.

2. Do not sell alcohol at your party.

Selling alcohol, even to drinking age guests, can create substantial liability.

3. Offer non-alcoholic options and food.

It’s important to be sure to offer non-alcoholic beverages and filling foods for guests to snack on throughout the night.

4. Give wristbands to those of legal age at larger gatherings.

If your party is on the larger side and you are planning to have underage guests present, it’s best to get wristbands for those of legal age and have guests put them on upon entering the party.

5. Encourage guests to arrange safe methods for returning home, early in the evening.

Be sure that guests either have a designated driver or an alternate, safe plan to get home. In addition, it’s smart to keep the number for a cab company handy along with some available cash for guests who may need to borrow money for fare.

Whether it’s an adult hosting a holiday party, or a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol to minors or sells alcohol to adults, Yarborough Applegate is here to help those who are injured as a result of alcohol-related conduct that is negligent or reckless.