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Social host liability considerations in New Jersey

With summer quickly approaching, and graduation and wedding season moving full-steam ahead, countless families across the state of New Jersey are planning for a number of parties and large events. Gatherings may vary in size from including a few close relatives to large groups of friends and acquaintances alike, but may often involve alcohol. In such cases, it is all too common for happy moments to turn into tragedies. Social host liability is a factor in many drunk driving accident cases, and can be an important aspect of effectively pursuing personal-injury claims.

The National Conference of State Legislatures discusses social host liability, and explains that issues concerning underage drinking have led to the institution of strict state and federal guidelines. According to one study conducted in 2012, over 24 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 20 admitted to consuming alcohol, and around 11 percent of that age group also claimed to have operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. New Jersey is one of 31 states with legislation allowing for social hosts to be held liable for injuries and damages in cases involving underage drinking in civil court.

Under New Jersey law, a person may be held liable for damages and injuries as a social host under several circumstances. Not only is it illegal to knowingly and willingly provide alcohol to an underage person who is visibly intoxicated, but people are also prohibited from making their leased or owned property available to underage drinkers.

It is also important to note that social host liability laws do not only apply in cases involving underage drinking. According to NJ.com, anyone who invites another person to his or her private residence and provides alcohol can be held liable for the visibly intoxicated guest’s wrongdoing. Injuries and damages sustained by the drunk driver may not be held against the social host, but he or she may be responsible for injuries or damages to a third-party.

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