Summertime and Social Host Liability

Summer is a popular time for social gatherings. For some, these gatherings involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages. If a guest leaves a house intoxicated and sustains an injury, could the social host be held liable? The answer depends on the circumstances and how they apply to California's social host liability laws.

Many states have adopted some form of social host liability law. Typically, when it comes to a social host liability lawsuit, an injured party would seek compensation for damages from the person or vendor that served them alcohol, which ultimately led to their injury.

California law is different in that social host liability is significantly limited. What this means is that bars, restaurants, party hosts, or any other third party cannot be held liable or pursued for damages in alcohol-related accidents. There are, however, certain exceptions to this law.

Underage Drinking and Social Host Liability in California

In California, there are two notable exceptions to the social host liability law:

1. Distributing Alcohol to a Minor at a Residence. If a parent, guardian, or other adult provides alcohol to someone underage (or someone they should know is underage) at their residence, that individual may be liable if the minor leaves and injures themselves or someone else.

2. Distributing Alcohol to a Minor at a Business. A business that is licensed to sell alcohol could be held liable if it is proven that the business served alcohol to a minor and that the consumption of alcohol was the main cause of injury.

Protecting Your Rights

If either of the above circumstances applies, an injured individual may seek compensation against a third party who served alcohol to the minor who caused the injury. The injured party may be entitled to receive compensation for:

  • Medical bills

  • Lost wages

  • Property damage

  • Pain and suffering

Our personal injury attorneys will identify who is responsible for your injuries and work to ensure you receive the compensation you need to heal.

Contact Fowler | Helsel | Vogt at (559) 900-1280 to schedule your free consultation today!

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