Hosting a party where you provide alcohol to guests is a great way to ensure that your guests have fun, but it also brings legal risks. The open bar is a big part of the appeal of summer barbecues, holiday open houses where neighbors view each other’s lovingly-crafted Christmas villages, and weekly poker games at the house of a close friend, but it’s all fun and games until a drunk guest causes an accident on the drive home. In Alabama, as in many other states, social host liability laws make it so that the person who provided the alcohol at the social gathering where the guest got drunk can be sued for any injuries caused to another by the drunk person. Social host liability applies to car accident injury lawsuits, as well as to other kinds of personal injury lawsuits.
Alabama Social Host Liability Laws
According to Alabama Code section 6-5-71, the person who unlawfully provides alcohol to a person who causes injuries to others while drunk can be held legally responsible for indirectly causing those injuries. Unlawfully providing alcohol means providing it to someone younger than 21 or to someone who is already visibly drunk. If the drunk person is the one who got injured, they cannot file a social host liability lawsuit.
A Case of Social Host Liability
Will has a high school graduation party at his house with an open bar. He and his friends get drunk; his parents don’t mind, as long as they don’t do anything destructive. After the party, Madison drives home with her twin sister Hannah. They get in a car accident in which they both suffer broken bones and are taken to the hospital. Hannah has a social host liability case against Will’s parents, but Madison doesn’t, because she was the one driving drunk.
Not a Case of Social Host Liability
On the Fourth of July, Brittany invites her co-workers to her house for a boozy barbecue. By 10:30 p.m., the grill has cooled down, and the guests, all of whom are in their twenties, are dancing on the patio. A Taylor Swift song comes on, and Brittany’s friend, Austin, gets the alcohol-inspired idea to dance with 10 lit sparklers in each hand while everyone watches and films his antics on their phones. As you can probably guess, he drops some of the sparklers on his foot, and since he is wearing flip flops, his injuries require fairly extensive treatment. Austin does not have a case against Brittany, even though it was her party, because he was the only one injured as a result of his drunkenness.
Contact the Stevenson Klotz Law Firm About Car Accident Cases
If your insurance company’s settlement offer is not enough, and the drunk driver who hit you does not have any money that they could pay you as a settlement, a social host liability lawsuit might be an option for you. Contact the Stevenson Klotz Law Firm in Mobile, Alabama to discuss your case and to see whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.