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Defining social host liability

When you have been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver in Allenhurst, your frustration over the negligence involved in the situation is understandable. Not only was the driver negligent in choosing to drive while drunk, but someone else may have also been so by providing them with the means to become drunk. Establishments licensed to serve alcohol should know the inherent risks involved with serving their patrons, which is why New Jersey has enacted its own dram shop law (which has been detailed on this blog in the past). Yet what about one who serves guests alcohol at a party or get-together? Many have come to us here at Escandon, Fernicola, Anderson, Covelli & McPherson asking if there is a way to hold such parties liable, as well. 

If you share the same question, you will be relieved to know that there is. Similar to its dram shop law, the state also has a "social host liability law." This statute allows you to assign liability to anyone who furnished alcoholic beverages to a person whose subsequent intoxication later caused your accident. However, just as is the case with New Jersey's dram shop law, the burden of proof is on you to show that the circumstances of your case warrant the application of this statute. 

According to Section 2A:15-5.6 of New Jersey's Revised Statutes, the following elements must be proven in a social host liability case: 

  • A social host provided alcohol to one who was visibly intoxicated either in their own presence or with disregard to the potential safety concerns of others
  • The host did nothing the mitigate the risks the could accompany such actions
  • The person who was served by the host caused your accident

More information on drunk driving liability can be found throughout our site. 

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