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Before You Throw A Party Cover Your Assets

Before You Throw A Party Cover Your Assets

In the state of Florida Social Hosts are held liable for the actions of their guests both in civil and criminal court…

If you serve alcohol to your friends when they visit your home, you may be taking on a large risk. In most states, you can be held responsible for what happens to your drunken guest. It doesn’t matter if he lands in the hospital after falling down a flight of stairs or if he drives away drunk and causes a car crash. If you allow your friend to get drunk, you could find yourself in court. Even if your friend doesn’t sue you for damages, a person he injures in a car crash could.

If you have assets to protect, it’s important to have adequate liability insurance coverage. Your home insurance policy will come to the rescue in the event that you are sued — even if you over serve your guest and allow him to drive away drunk. Here is how your home insurance would kick in:

If a claim is filed against you, your insurer pays for your legal representation and either fights the case in court or settles. But if you were sued for more than the limits of your policy, you’d be responsible for paying the remainder.

If you have many assets to protect, such as a house, savings or investments, consider buying an umbrella policy. Umbrella coverage, which provides liability coverage above and beyond your car and home insurance, typically starts at $1 million. This coverage is especially helpful when you’re sued by more than one person. In Florida, if your drunken friend causes an accident that injures other people, and his drinking is linked to you, those third parties may sue you for negligence too. You could be held responsible for their medical bills, vehicle-repair costs, lost time from work or even wrongful death.

Be aware that in some circumstances you may find yourself facing criminal charges — especially if a death is involved. These criminal charges would be in addition to any negligence charges that are handled in civil court. Your insurance company will NOT represent you in criminal court; it will only handle the civil aspect of your case. If your guests, no matter how much, are charged to drink it is NO longer covered by your insurance because it is then considered a business venture.

How to prevent holiday party accidents and protect yourself or your business:

  • Host your party at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license, rather than in a home or office.
  • Meet with an insurance agent before hosting a party to understand your state’s host liability laws, and to make sure you’re properly insured.
  • Limit your guest list to your close friends and family.
  • Provide filling food (breads and other starchy foods) for guests and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Arrange transportation or sleeping arrangements for those who should not drive.
  • Stop serving alcohol one hour before the party is scheduled to end and offer guests coffee throughout the party.
  • Do not serve guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Consider collecting keys when your guests arrive to better control them leaving intoxicated
  • Review your insurance policy with your agent before the event to ensure that you have the proper liability coverage.
  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcohol.
  • Limit your alcohol intake so that you can better judge your guests’ sobriety.

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