This weekend will be somewhat of a National Holiday. While not on the calendar, Super Bowl Weekend is about as functionally close to a National Holiday as it gets. When most people think about the Super Bowl, they think hard hitting action, explosive plays, great defense, and one heck of a half-time show. Of course, you will want to share this incredible experience with others and may consider throwing a Super Bowl party. The Super Bowl is among the most watched American television events of the year and is second only to Thanksgiving for U.S. food consumption. Along with food consumption comes alcohol consumption and those two come together in countless Super Bowl Parties. So what liability could you have if a guest at your party, who leaves intoxicated, gets into an accident and seriously injures someone? The easy answer is; plenty. While any party you may throw brings up social host liability issues, Super Bowl Parties almost always involves alcohol so it is a good time to review social host liability law. Social host liability arises any time you have guests, where they consume alcohol on your property and you let them leave when you know or should have known that they are intoxicated. If your intoxicated guest leaves your party and then injures themselves or a third party, including physical and/or property damage, you could be civilly liable for all those damages.
For persons under 21 years of age, Connecticut creates a broader range of liability issues for the individual who provided the alcohol, even if they did not specifically serve the alcohol to the minor. This could expose the social host to a wide range of civil and criminal liabilities. Connecticut is a progressive state in social host liability and takes the prosecutions of these offenses very seriously.
So, what can you do to limit your exposure to social host liabilities that can seriously jeopardize your financial well-being? The most effective option is to not serve or allow alcohol at your party, but that might seriously hinder attendance. The next most effective option is to carefully monitor and limit alcohol consumption and do not let any guests drive away from your party who are intoxicated. You should consider securing a Personal Umbrella Policy in addition to your regular homeowners policy. A $1,000,000 coverage policy can be added onto your homeowners policy for a few hundred dollars a year.
Assuming that alcohol will be served, here are a few steps you can take to make things safer:
- Collect keys when your guests arrive to control when they can leave
- Provide transportation or sleeping arrangements for those too drunk to drive
- Limit attendance to guests you can control
- Do not serve guests who are noticeably intoxicated and do not let them drive
- Stop serving alcohol at the end of the 3rd quarter, or 1 hour before people leave
- Provide food, coffee and water for sobering affects and as alternative to alcohol
This weekend, enjoy the sporting event and the time spent with your friends and loved ones by keeping them, and yourself, safe and trouble-free.