If you’re hosting a house party, it might surprise you to learn that you can be liable for a drunk driver. Serving alcohol to someone past the point of their ability to make clear and rational decisions can come back on you if they get into an accident, destroy someone’s property, or cause bodily harm to someone else. Here’s what you should know about alcohol liability in New Hampshire.
If you’re looking to get wedding or event general insurance, you are obligated to get an alcohol liability policy along with it. Typically, this gets bundled with your general policy. This is because you don’t really have control over who drinks at your event, and your insurance company wants to make sure you’re covered.
However, this also applies to bartenders who are considered responsible for the drinks they serve. When you become a bartender or server, you are required in New Hampshire to go through alcohol training to understand how many drinks is too many and how to proceed if you can no longer responsibly serve someone.
The Potential Ramifications
In New Hampshire, there are laws regarding negligent service of alcoholic beverages. This law states that “A defendant who negligently serves alcoholic beverages to a minor or to an intoxicated person is liable for resulting damages.” Basically, it is the host’s responsibility to make sure to the best of their ability that they are not serving a minor or someone who is intoxicated.
We all know that there are consequences for drunk driving, but we are less familiar with the consequences of overserving someone which results in an alcohol-related accident. If you serve drinks to someone who causes an alcohol-related accident, the injured party may also hold you accountable. Injured parties are able to bring a claim against the party who caused the accident, but they can also bring a claim against a third-party such as the server or restaurant. This can include you if you hosted the event where the offending driver got drunk.
These situations are civil case situations, meaning they are not criminal, and the result would be monetary damages rather than, for instance, jail time.
We recommend getting event insurance if you’re having a large event, such as a wedding. Regardless, it’s important to pay attention to your guests and plan for someone getting too impaired to drive safely. This can include providing food along with the alcohol, planning for rides in case someone gets too drunk, and being open to someone sleeping on your couch. Having a professional bartender with liability insurance can also decrease your risk. We also recommend checking your homeowner’s or renters’ insurance to see how you’re already covered.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need legal representation, Bernstein & Mello, PLLC have ample experience helping clients navigate the complicated legal world. We often work with litigation clients to help them get the best outcome possible. Reach out to us today, and let us know how we can help.