Graduation is a big deal in your teen’s life. It represents the transition from one stage of life to the next. Many parents celebrate this milestone by hosting a graduation party. Before you host a party for your graduate, you need to understand your liability risks.
Social Host Laws
Most states have some form of social host law in place. What this means is that you are legally responsible for the actions of your guests if they become intoxicated while guests in your home. Specifically, the laws address third party liability if your guests leave your party, after consuming alcohol, and do harm to others. You can be found financially liable and required to pay damages to the families of people injured or killed by your guests.
A few states have further laws related to underage drinking in your home holding your responsible for the actions, not only of your minor children, but also minor children who are guests in your home. In these cases, whether they injure themselves or others by their actions, after consuming alcohol on your property – whether you had knowledge of the alcohol consumption or not because you are considered responsible to monitor their actions while they are guests in your home.
Teens who consume alcohol are also at greater risk of suffering from falls, drowning, injuries, and assaults – all of which you could be found responsible for from a legal perspective. It’s important to take steps to prevent drinking from taking place on your property and to closely supervise teen activities while they are under your care.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself from Potential Graduation Party Liabilities
That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate this important event in your teen’s life. The key is to take preventative steps to avoid the potential for underage drinking and other potential liability risks during the event. These are a few things you can do to prepare your home and protect your own financial concerns.
- Do not serve alcohol. This reduces your risks greatly. Take one step further and secure any alcohol on your property in a locked cabinet and inform your teen and his or her guests that drinking is not allowed.
- Make sure all steps and stairs have sturdy handrails and are in good repair.
- Eliminate slippery surfaces and remove potential tripping hazards and obstacles on the ground or floors of your lawn and home.
- Have a fully stocked first aid kit.
- Have a functioning fire extinguisher within easy access.
- Make sure you have adequate and appropriate coverage for swimming pools, trampolines, and any other structures that are typically deemed high-risk structures by insurance companies. Also, make sure your pool is properly fenced and that you have appropriate safety features on other structures.
- Consider kenneling pets during the party if you are concerned about their reaction to loud noises or large crowds. Make sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage to protect yourself if your pet becomes agitated and injures someone at your party.
The key is in protecting your family and your home while still providing a venue in which your graduate and his or her friends can have an enjoyable evening of celebration together. These simple steps will go a long way to do just that.
Additionally, make sure your homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy is up-to-date and that you have an adequate umbrella liability insurance policy to cover potential gaps or shortfalls in your liability insurance coverage. Working with an independent insurance agency, like BOLT Insurance Agency, ensures that you have access to the widest range of policies that protect your personal insurance interests and liability needs.