As we head into the holiday season, many individuals and families will be hosting gatherings where they will invite loved ones, friends and acquaintances. Party hosts should be aware that when they invite people onto their property, they assume a degree of responsibility for the safety of those guests – in some cases even after they leave.
There are two primary avenues for this: General premises liability law and social host/ dram shop law. General premises liability holds that property owners/ those in charge of a property owe a duty of care to those who are welcomed there to ensure they are reasonably safe. Then there are social host liability/ dram shop laws. F.S. 768.125 holds that persons who sell or furnish alcohol to persons who are not of lawful drinking age or who are known to be habitually addicted to alcohol can be liable for damages caused by or resulting from that person’s intoxication. Most often, this occurs in the form of drunk driving accident, but it could be applied to other scenarios as well.
The recent case of Rogers v. Martin, recently before the Indiana Supreme Court, involved a party guest who was killed in a drunken brawl at the end of a house party. Questions arose about the owner’s responsibility for his safety, as well as her liability for allegedly “furnishing”alcohol to the other person involved in the fight. Continue reading