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The Liability of Social Hosts in New Jersey

With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, many people are starting to plan holiday parties. With that in mind, it's appropriate to think about the risks tied to a party, particularly when alcohol is served. What's the potential liability if someone attends your work party, or a party in your home, and then causes an injury in a drunk driving accident?

Understanding Social Host Liability

In New Jersey, as in other states, the legal term that applies when a private individual or entity serves alcohol is social host liability. As a social host, you can be liable for the consequences of a guest's actions under a couple different scenarios:

  • You served alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated and they were subsequently involved in an accident
  • You served a sufficient quantity of alcohol to a guest, in a given time period, that you should reasonably have expected or known that the guest would become impaired, and that guest was subsequently involved in an accident

The most common situation involves a guest who then leaves in a motor vehicle, and crashes that vehicle. It's important to understand that you can be liable for injuries to the inebriated person, as well as to anyone else hurt in the accident. It's also important to understand that you don't actually have to serve the alcohol to be legally responsible. If you sponsored or hosted the party, and made alcoholic beverages generally available, you can still be liable, whether you personally served the alcohol, someone else distributed the drinks, or the inebriated person helped himself to your alcohol.

Contact the Attorneys at Mallon & Tranger

We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has been injured by the carelessness of another person. To set up a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-702-0333 (toll free at ) for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.

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