What is social host liability?
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.
What is Washington State’s underage social host liability law?
RCW 66.44.270 states that “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.”
What are the penalties for breaking Washington State’s underage social host liability law?
The penalties for breaking Washington State’s underage social host liability 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, damages property or injures 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. Despite this protection in the law, it is still risky to allow teens to drink at your home as their behavior may become erratic and unpredictable.
What is a social host liability claim in Washington State?
In Washington State, a social host liability claim may be brought against a private social host for an injury that was caused by an intoxicated minor under the age of 21. If the host served alcohol to an adult 21 or older who then caused an injury, the host cannot usually be held liable.
Can I be held responsible if my child hosts a party at my home with underage drinking without my knowledge?
Generally, parents will not be held responsible for underage drinking accidents that happen on their premises if they were not home and were unaware of the party. If parents knew about the party or left teens unsupervised while they were out of town and provided alcohol / left alcohol accessible in their home to underage guests then there is a possibility that parents could be held responsible for an alcohol-related accident. If you or your child was injured or has property damage as a result of underage drinking at a house party, speak to a social host liability lawyer to discuss your legal rights.
What damages may be recovered in a social host liability / alcohol-related accident claim?
Like in other types of personal injury cases, the plaintiff in an alcohol-related accident claim seeks to recover damages including pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and property damage caused by the accident.
What time limits does Washington State law place on social host liability claims?
Like other civil / personal injury claims, a social host liability claim must be filed before the deadline set by Washington State’s statute of limitations; three years from the date of the injury in most cases.
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