Summer means warm weather and longer days, which means that people throughout New Jersey will host parties to enjoy time with their friends and loved ones. While serving alcohol at a party can liven up the atmosphere or help guests unwind, it’s important to understand your legal responsibilities as a social host at a party where alcohol is served.
New Jersey law defines a social host as “a person who, by express or implied invitation, invites another person onto an unlicensed premises for purposes of hospitality,” and who serves alcohol but isn’t required to have a liquor license. If you host a party at your house, invite at least one other person, and serve alcohol, you’re probably a social host.
In New Jersey, social hosts can be sued by anyone who is injured as a result of the social host serving alcohol to:
· Someone who was visibly intoxicated in the social host’s presence, or
· Someone who has visibly intoxicated in circumstances “manifesting reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another,”
In a situation that created an unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm, and the social host failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid that risk. In other words, if one of your guests gets visibly drunk at your party, then harms someone else, the injured person could sue you for their injuries.
What can you do to reduce the risk of a lawsuit? Keep these responsible hosting tips in mind:
· Pay attention to the alcohol being served. Notice the rate of consumption and who is doing the drinking.
· Pay attention to your guests. Don’t be afraid to “cut off” anyone who is visibly impaired. In addition to protecting yourself, you’re also protecting them.
· Stop serving alcohol well before the end of the party. Leave at least two hours between the end of alcohol service and the end of the party. This is a great time to bring out dessert.
· Have a “zero tolerance” policy for minors and alcohol. If they’re under 21, they get no alcohol at your party—period.
If you’re injured due to someone else’s negligence this summer, the experienced New Jersey injury lawyers at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza P.C. can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.