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‘Social Host Liability’ – When a Guest Gets Hurt After Drinking or Using Drugs at Your House

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2013 | Criminal Law, Drug Charges, Personal Injury

The biggest New Jersey social host liability case was settled at the end of 2011 and made national news, especially among attorneys, small business owners and parents.

A young man received a $4.1 million personal injury settlement after he suffered permanent injury following an overdose on prescription drugs he took voluntarily while at a house party. Responsibility for paying the $4.1 million was to be split among the party’s host’s mother, other teenage guests at the party who waited to take the boy to a hospital after he showed signs of overdose, and the pharmacy from where the drugs were stolen from.

The moral of this cautionary tale is clear: Hosts of parties where alcohol or illegal drugs are consumed may be legally responsible for any injuries that occur, whether to party attendees or third people injured by intoxicated party-goers. Attorneys call this “social host liability.”

Have you or a loved one suffered a serious injury caused, for example, by a drunk driver? Do you have questions about social host liability for the injuries? Schedule a private meeting with the New Jersey personal injury law firm of Mallon & Tranger to get advice and information about social host liability and your other legal options. Contact us online or call us at 732-702-0333. Your first consultation is free.

The New Jersey case of the teenager who overdosed illustrates some specific aspects of the social host liability laws that are different from the laws as they apply to adult party-goers. The general social host liability laws still apply, but the host will not be legally responsible if a guest of legal drinking age injures him or herself due to intoxication. The host may only be held legally responsible if the guest drinks while already visibly intoxicated and then goes on to injure another person. Under New Jersey’s social host liability laws, it is irrelevant whether the host hands a drink to the guest or the guest serves him or herself.

For tips on planning and conducting a safe party, consult this Safe Party Guide published by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

If you or a loved one was injured by someone intoxicated and you have questions about whether the New Jersey social host liability laws apply, contact Mallon & Tranger online for a free consultation.