Social Host Liquor Liability - Holiday Parties

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With the holidays and the end of the year right around the corner, many organizations will host parties for their employees. While these celebrations are fun and a good way to boost team morale, they can create a number of liabilities when alcohol is present.

Any time you provide alcohol to individuals in a non-commercial manner, you are considered a social host. However, a social host may be held responsible for the acts of their guests if their conduct creates or exacerbates a risk to the public. In some cases, incidents can result in costly lawsuits that can easily reach six figures.

As such, it is important to take the appropriate steps to control your risk if your organization is sponsoring an event.

 To ensure the safety of your employees and business, consider doing the following at your next company-sponsored event:

  •  Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar.
  • Set up bar stations instead of having servers circulate the room.
  • Place a sign at each bar reminding employees and guests to drink responsibly.
  • Offer a range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks at no charge.
  • Require servers to measure spirits. Always serve food with alcohol.
  • Close the bar at least an hour before the scheduled end of the party.
  • Instruct guests to take advantage of safe transportation options by offering taxis or promoting a designated driver program.

In addition to proper liquor liability planning and education, review your company’s current general liability insurance policy to determine your coverage in social host situations.

Remember, even with the proper coverage, an events and liquor liability policy does not eliminate your exposure if alcohol service is in violation of a statute, a minor is served or an already intoxicated person is served. 

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