In some states, hosts of social events where alcohol is being served to guests may face liability if their guests subsequently become intoxicated and cause a personal injury to someone else.
Tennessee is not one of those states with explicit social host liability on the books. However, acts like serving someone who is visibly intoxicated or known to be a minor can contribute to an overall profile of negligence, recklessness or intentional conduct on the part of even hosts. If the injury victim does not have a direct cause-of-action against the host for third-party liability, they may be able to pursue compensation via other legal avenues, especially if they were injured on the host’s private property.
Learn more about why an event host could still be considered liable and how a car accident lawyer deciphers the legal questions in such a case.
What Are Social Host Liability Laws?
These laws, which are present in some states, try to hold event hosts accountable for their actions when they indirectly cause someone else to become injured. The idea is to encourage them to serve guests responsibly and monitor guests’ decisions throughout the party.
These laws often hold a stronger liability standard than negligence, which relates to breaching a duty of care that a “reasonable person” would exercise. Perhaps the thinking is that a “reasonable person” would expect adults to make responsible alcohol-related decisions on their own, but regardless, these laws involve heavier standards of recklessness and intentional conduct.
Recklessness refers to conduct where someone knows that there might be substantial risks involved in a decision, yet they engage in it anyways. In this context, a party guest who has had five DUIs and a history of injuring people presents an obvious risk if they get behind the wheel. If the party host knowingly serves them and watches as they drive away, they could possibly be said to be acting recklessly according to some interpretations.
Intentional conduct requires a similar standard of knowledge of the circumstances. A simple example is a host who knows that a person is a minor under the age of 18 yet decides to serve them alcohol anyways.
In Tennessee, this action would be a crime, but this sort of intentional conduct does not directly open an avenue for a liability lawsuit or a personal injury claim. Likewise, reckless behavior may constitute a crime under extreme circumstances if the host allows illegal activity to commence, but does not open up third-party liability for a resulting injury caused by a party guest.
Why You Should Appoint a Car Accident Lawyer After Your Injury
Even if you cannot sue a host for over-serving someone that caused your injury directly, you have a direct claim against the perpetrator.
You may also have an indirect claim against the host if your injury relates somehow to their own behavior. Having evidence of recklessness or intentional conduct can strengthen such a claim, but your success will vary based on the specific circumstances.
Since their are so many legal questions involved, you will most likely need a car accident attorney if you have been injured by someone who was driving drunk in order to pursue claims against all possible groups. Use the number above or our simple online contact form to tell us about your case and receive a free consultation.