Graduation is an important milestone and time of celebration in the life of a young person and their family. Parents typically host events to celebrate the accomplishments of their student, and often their homes serve as the perfect venue for these parties.
However, problems can arise if celebrations include alcohol or activities with a high incidence of accidental injury. Parents and hosts should take every precaution to protect their guests from harm and themselves from financial ruin. Before planning your next event, consider these tips legal experts provide to parents to ensure your festivities are without legal liability.
Partying at your home may sound like the far simpler alternative, but parents are surprised to realize that home parties are fraught with the potential for financially disastrous personal injury liabilities. If you have a pool, a pet, or even a crack in your patio, you could be opening yourself up to personal injury litigation. If your pet attacks someone, a guest falls because of the crack in the patio, or someone falls into the pool, then you could be held responsible for any personal injury and related damages.
Hosts should also be aware that they may be personally responsible for the events of a party whether the event takes place in their home or a rented banquet hall they have procured. When hosting a party or social engagement, parents assume the role of the responsible party should the event get out of control. As the social host, parents are responsible for all guests, both adult and minor.
Serving alcohol may be the most dangerous potential liability to parents hosting a graduation party. Parents must monitor that legal drinkers do not consume too much alcohol. If adult guests overdrink at your event and engage in reckless behavior, then you could be found liable should that behavior end in injury or damages to a third party. If an adult overconsumes alcohol at your event, then the host can be held responsible for overserving, which falls into the legal category of negligence and breach of care.
It’s also equally important to ensure that minor guests are not served. When an adult serves alcohol to a juvenile, they can face criminal charges for aiding in the delinquency of a minor. In addition to criminal charges, hosts could face civil claims against their assets for any damages brought by the child and their parents. To best protect your family from liabilities that could arise from drinking on your property, begin by strictly enforcing drinking limits for adults. Enlist the help of chaperones to prevent underage alcohol consumption.
Hosting a graduation event at a third-party establishment, like a club or banquet hall, doesn’t automatically release parents from all responsibility, but it can assume some of the financial liabilities for certain injuries. Start by reading the liability release on any vendor contracts carefully. Some responsibilities will remain yours, and it’s wise for parents to understand the division of responsibility between themselves and their vendor.
You could still be liable for your guests’ safety inside the vendor’s establishment, which means you could be responsible for the structure, food, or any other aspects of the party that could go wrong. The one caveat may be for parties with alcohol being served. When serving alcohol, planning an off-site party could be the better option. Bars and venues with liquor licenses have a legal responsibility not to overserve guests, so they can help monitor the consumption levels and prevent underage drinking.
Each of these liabilities falls under the social host liability statutes, which vary by state, but they all require guests to take some level of responsibility for the event they plan to organize. It’s important to take precautions prior to hosting the event. While you cannot prevent every accident, you can increase your home liability coverage with your insurance provider to ensure your assets are covered. If your graduation party or event experienced an injury that you feel may end in litigation, then contact the personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, in Long Island, New York, to learn about the legal support and solutions we can make available in your personal injury suit.