The Super Bowl is one of the most popular days of the year for gathering with friends. It’s not even really relevant whether your team made it or not, the Super Bowl, which takes place the second Sunday in February each year, is a chance to watch the season’s two best teams face off in what should be an exciting game. For non-football fans, it’s all about socializing, eating and drinking, and watching the commercials and halftime show. Super Bowl parties are a great way to watch the big game. Many hosts put out chicken wings and other appetizers or barbequed foods and have bottles of beer, cider, or other alcoholic beverages available.
According to the National Retail Federation, 103.5 million Americans are planning to host or attend a Super Bowl party this year and an additional 17.8 million are planning to watch the game at a bar or restaurant. With those numbers in mind, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the Super Bowl is the most watched televised event in the United States. What you might not know is that the Super Bowl can be dangerous for fans watching the game at home. On the night of the championship game, there is typically a significant increase in drunk driving accidents and traffic deaths as well as cardiac events and intestine-related issues and emergency room visits for TV and kitchen-related injuries.
Social hosting defined
While commercial entities like bars are ruled by a “duty of care” to the people consuming the establishment’s alcoholic beverages, social host liability laws place responsibility on the “social host” – often the homeowner – who hosts a house party. Many states, including Washington, have social host liability laws for drinking that involves underage minors.
Social host safety tips for Super Bowl parties
- Have guests bring their own alcoholic beverages or limit the alcoholic beverages you serve.
- Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party wraps up.
- Never serve alcohol to minors in your home.
- Hire a bartender for large parties.
- Limit the guests at your parties to people that you can trust to drink responsibly.
- Provide plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverage choices. Super Bowl parties are usually casual so soda and punch are two good non-alcoholic options.
- Provide snacks and food so guests aren’t drinking on an empty stomach.
- Ensure that your guests who choose to drink have either a designated driver, will call a taxi or Uber, or plan to stay overnight.
Social host liability in Washington State
Social hosts can’t typically be held responsible for a car accident caused by an intoxicated adult guest of your party, however, that is not true for minor guests. Some adults mistakenly believe that allowing teenage children and their friends to consume alcohol under their roof is safer than somewhere else. If an intoxicated underage guest causes injury to themselves or another person or property while at the party or after leaving the party, the host may be liable for damages under social host liability laws.
Underage Social Host Liability Laws: Washington State
RCW 66.44.270: “It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her premises or on any premises under his or her control.”
The penalties for breaking this law include a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in jail. Social hosts also owe a “duty of reasonable care” to a minor who consumes alcohol supplied by them on or off their premises. Essentially, a host may be held liable if the minor is injured or injures property or someone else in any way. Note that in Washington State a social host is not liable for permitting a minor to consume alcohol on the host’s premises if the alcohol was not provided by the host.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a drinking and driving accident or other accident caused by an intoxicated person, contact a personal injury lawyer for help. They can evaluate the details of your injury, advise you on your legal rights, and let you know how to proceed with your claim.
Seek the help of a social host liability lawyer
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury that could be the fault of a social host, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the hard-working personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County, and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!