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Things You Can Be Sued For: Your Super Bowl Party

Super Bowl Weekend is upon us!  It’s also one of the biggest events where more people drink and drive than any other time of the year.  If you are having a party at your house or apartment and you are serving alcoholic beverages here is some food for thought.

You probably have heard stories of bars or restaurants that served too much alcohol to a patron. He then gets into his car, has an accident, and someone is injured or killed. The bar gets sued because they didn’t cut off the alcohol to their customer and take proper steps so this person did not get behind the wheel of a car.

Did you know that hosts of a private party can also be held responsible for the same thing?

For many years New Jersey has a Social Host Liability Law on the books that will hold a host of a private party responsible. The law only focuses on drinking and driving.

The law and subsequent court cases give social hosts added responsibility when alcohol is served to guests at their party. It doesn’t make a difference if the host or guests provided the alcohol, nor does it make a difference if the host or guests served the alcohol. If the host allows alcohol to be served to a “visibly intoxicated” guest and that guest leaves the party, drives off in his car, and causes an accident the host can be sued.

So what does this have to do with insurance?

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies provide some form of liability protection for Social Host Liquor Liability. These kind of policies usually have a limit of $100,000 but that may not be enough liability protection. Usually you can buy up to $500,000 and anything above that is covered under a separate personal umbrella policy.

We do stress that some insurance companies do not cover social liquor liability. So always take a look at your policy and give us a call (or your agent a call) and we can go over it with you. By the way, if you are with another agent we do have one question – Why are you with them and not us?

Even if you have liability coverage through your homeowners or renters insurance policy there are steps you can take to help you prevent an accident from happening.

  1. If you are having a big enough party why not have it at a restaurant, hall, or bar that will serve the alcohol? The staff who serve alcohol for a living are more in-tuned to people’s drinking habits and the signs of intoxication.
  2. Encourage guests to have a designated driver who is not going to drink.
  3. Always serve food and provide non-alcoholic beverages that can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  4. Do not pressure your guests to drink alcohol.
  5. Set a reasonable cut off time for serving alcohol. Most restaurants or bars cut off serving alcohol 30 to 60 minutes before they close. Have non-alcoholic beverages like tea, coffee, water, or soft drinks available.
  6. Call a cab to bring a visibly intoxicated guest home.
  7. Offer them a room or couch to sleep on your place. (Word of caution: If the person likes you and you don’t like them….pony up the money to pay for a cab or Uber. That cab is the best investment you will ever make).

The Super Bowl is a great time to get together with family and friends.  But be wise if you are going to serve alcohol.

Scott Harrigan

About Scott Harrigan

Scott started his career in insurance in 1988 and joined Rue Insurance in 2004 as a Marketing Specialist focusing on creating effective risk financing and risk transfer programs for companies and non-profit organizations. In addition to this he is a member of the Rue Insurance educational team that provides ongoing professional development in critical insurance concepts and programs to Rue employees. About Scott | More Posts by Scott