Can Party Hosts be Held Responsible?

11/17/2008

Many holiday hosts will be serving alcohol at their parties.  This leads to the question of whether they can be held responsible for an accident caused by their guest after leaving the party.  This is known as “social host liability.”  The laws regarding social host liability vary from state to state.  Several states have laws holding a host responsible if they “over serve” alcohol to one of their guests and the guest causes an accident that hurts or kills someone.

Kentucky is one of 18 states that does not impose social host liability.  In Kentucky,

The General Assembly finds and declares that the consumption of intoxicating beverages, rather than the serving, furnishing, or sale of such beverages, is the proximate cause of any injury, including death and property damage, inflicted by an intoxicated person upon himself or another person. 

KRS 413.241

The only way to completely ensure you won’t be sued is if you choose not to serve alcohol; however, assuming you are not the employer of your guest, and assuming you are only serving adults, Kentucky law does not hold a host responsible for the negligence of a guest.

Regardless of the law, if you choose to serve alcohol at your holiday party, be a responsible host by making sure your guests don’t drive if they have had to much alcohol.