The Party Organizer Can Be Held Responsible for Injuries that Happen at their Home or Even an Accident that Occurs Afterward
Hosting a party at your home can be a fun yet stressful undertaking. Planning food options, drinks, entertainment, and cleaning in preparation for your guests can be time-consuming. Rarely do party hosts put much thought, if any, into legal issues and liability related to a house party. But what happens if a few of your guests get into a physical altercation and someone gets hurt? What if someone drinks too much at your party and later causes a motor vehicle accident? And what are your rights and options for pursuing compensation if you have been injured while visiting someone else’s home in New Jersey?
When the unexpected happens, and you are left to navigate legal questions that you never imagined you would be asking, it is important to seek credible answers based on New Jersey law and the unique facts of your situation. In this article, we will provide an overview of social host liability laws and related lawsuits in New Jersey, how to avoid injuries at house parties, when an injured person can pursue compensation from a host, and liability for over-serving alcohol to a guest or serving alcohol to a minor.
Typical Injuries That People Experience at Home Parties in NJ
The most common injuries that people experience at home parties while they are still on the premises are slipping and falling, having something drop onto them, or being assaulted by another person. Once a guest leaves the party, the most common injuries they may experience are head injuries, lacerations, and spinal injuries, resulting from a motor vehicle accident.
Preventing Accidents and Injuries at House Parties
While it is not always possible to prevent accidents, there are several prudent measures that a party host can take to mitigate the risk of a guest being injured. Party hosts should ensure that the premise of the party does not contain any dangerous conditions, such as a deck with an unstable railing or a sinkhole without warnings.
It is also important to not overserve your guests alcoholic beverages and not serve any alcoholic beverages at all to a guest who is under the legal drinking age in New Jersey of 21.
If Someone is Injured at a House Party, Is the Property Owner Responsible in New Jersey?
Under New Jersey law, a social host or individual who is hosting a gathering on their property has a legal responsibility not to serve alcohol to an individual they know to be intoxicated or to serve an individual with so much alcohol that it causes them to become intoxicated. If, as a party host, you overserve a guest or provide alcohol to a guest who is visibly intoxicated, and that individual leaves your party and causes a motor vehicle accident, you can be held responsible for the resulting injuries of the accident’s victims under New Jersey’s social host liability laws. This imposition of liability does not apply to cases of assault or a physical fight between people.
To fulfill your legal duty as a host and avoid these situations, you should monitor the alcohol consumption of your guests to avoid anyone becoming intoxicated in the first place. However, if you notice that someone at your party is visibly intoxicated, you should offer them non-alcoholic beverages, offer for them to spend the night, or call them a taxi, uber, or another ride.
Fundamentals of How Social Host Liability Works
Let’s say that a friend of yours comes to your house for a birthday party and becomes very intoxicated. Then, that friend attempts to drive home. On their way, they drive through a red light and hit another vehicle, causing the passengers of the other vehicle to suffer serious injuries and even death. Each of the injured victims may be able to recover compensation from you for their injuries, as well as the families of the victims who were killed, under New Jersey’s social host law.
How Serving Alcohol to a Minor May Lead to a Potential Liability Claim
If you serve alcohol to a minor at a house party in New Jersey, you may be liable to any injury victims who are hurt as a result of the minor’s actions. You may also face criminal charges. Serving alcohol to a minor (someone under the age of 21) is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey. This action may also give rise to a charge for endangering the welfare of a child.
Is the Party Organizer Still Responsible If There Was a Self-Service Bar?
Even if you are not personally pouring the drinks for your guests, by offering a self-service bar that allows guests to serve themselves alcohol, you are still making the alcohol available to your guests and, as such, New Jersey’s social host law still applies. If you notice that a guest is serving themselves so much alcohol that they are becoming intoxicated, you have a duty to intervene and possibly remove the alcohol, insist that the individual not drive, and/or call them a taxi. You might consider hiring a professional bartender, if possible, to serve guests and monitor their consumption.
Get Help from the Personal Injury Lawyers at Cohen & Riechelson to Protect Your Rights in NJ
You thought you were hosting the party of the year, but now you are blindsided by accusations against you for the actions of one of your guests. It’s time to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer at Cohen and Riechelson. Whether a guest of yours was involved in a fight or a post-party motor vehicle, if you are concerned about your potential legal liability in the situation, it’s important to get legal counsel tailored to your situation right away.
On the other hand, if you have suffered injuries at someone else’s house during a party or due to an accident that occurred thereafter, it is crucial to explore your rights and legal options as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation for economic and non-economic personal injury damages, even punitive damages in some cases. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Our personal injury firm can help.
To set up a complimentary consultation regarding an accident during or after a party that you hosted or a party where you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, please contact us today at (609) 528-2596 or reach us online. We can assist you in fully understanding and asserting your rights in these precarious situations anywhere in Ewing, Woodbridge, East Windsor, Robbinsville, Trenton, Lawrence, Lambertville, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County, and throughout New Jersey.