Licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
What Are You Liable for? After Prom Parties
where injuries are sustained. A successful claim only requires that the plaintiff show evidence that a minor or visually intoxicated person was served alcohol and that alcohol played a role in the accident. If you’re not careful, damages caused by attendees at your after-party could come back to you.
It’s a special time of year for high school students. The annual tradition of prom, as well as the parties that follow, has many students very excited. In many cases, these pre- or post-prom events are viewed with more excitement than the actual prom itself. Most students see these after- parties as an essential part of the high school experience. HOSTING A PROM PARTY All parents are concerned with the safety of their children. Oftentimes, however, parents must balance that concern with letting their children fully experience their teenage years. This dilemma has led to many parents hosting after-parties themselves, either in their homes or at other venues, as a compromise between those two philosophies. Parents host these events with the best intentions: They want to keep their young adults safe. They hope that by personally hosting the party, they minimize the risk that their kids will do something to derail their professional and academic goals, while still allowing their student to participate in the after-party tradition. But, despite these admirable intentions, parents often fail to realize the legal liability associated with after-parties. DRAM SHOP LIABILITY The term“dram shop liability” is often used to refer to violations by restaurants, bars, or beverage retailers. While those establishments are most commonly affected by lawsuits of this nature, a dram shop lawsuit can be applied to any situation involving alcohol. In most cases, dram shop lawsuits occur after a serious car accident or other major incident
SOCIAL HOST LIABILITY There’s an extension of dram shop liability known as social host liability. In Pennsylvania, adults who serve alcohol at private functions are known as social hosts. If the host serves alcohol to a minor and that minor is injured or they injure someone else because of intoxication, the social host may be liable to pay damages to the injured person. It’s vital to keep in mind that social host liability only applies to adults who serve alcohol to minors in Pennsylvania. New Jersey doesn’t limit lawsuits to social occasions involving minors; a social host is responsible for the actions of an adult or minor who leaves an event intoxicated. WHAT WE RECOMMEND The civil and criminal consequences associated with an uncontrolled prom after-party should make our recommendation short and obvious: Don’t have one! However, if you still want to host an after-party, we recommend implementing the appropriate safeguards. Make sure the prohibition of alcohol and other substances is clear. Secure all over-the-counter and prescription medication and firearms in the house. It’s also best to avoid sending email or Facebook invitations, as these can be easily forwarded and drastically increase the number of invitees. We also recommend having a strict no re-entry policy. Be sure to speak with your insurance agent regarding your homeowner’s policy and specifically it’s limitations. If you would like more information about this issue, or if you or your loved one is the victim of an accident, contact our offices today. We’ll explain the law, the options available to you, and provide you with our professional legal opinion. –Alfonso Gambone
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