Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Social host liability laws and teen parties

It's the time of year for after-prom parties, and soon it will be graduation time. As such, Connecticut parents may want to review the state's social liability laws to make sure that they are protected from liability for any of their guests' actions.

This is important, because as some parents may remember from their own high school days, a lot of underage drinking takes place at after-prom and graduation parties. Here in Connecticut, according to a memo on Alcohol Possession by Minors that was written by an associate attorney for the state's Office of Legislative Research, a parent could face misdemeanor charges if they "knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence" allowed underage consumption of alcohol on their premises.

But that is just the criminal component to a likely civil case that could arise out of any damages the intoxicated minor suffers or inflicts on another person after consuming alcohol at a party.

If a partygoer at your teen's graduation party gets drunk, falls into the pool and drowns, you could find yourself liable for their death. Ditto for the motorist that dies in the collision caused by the minor who was served or accessed alcohol at the function you held.

Does this mean that you should refuse to host teen parties? No, but it does mean that you need to be responsible about ensuring the party remains 100% alcohol-free.

If you are the parent of a teenager who was injured or killed as a result of their own or another teen's underage drinking at someone else's home, you may want to determine your options for seeking compensation through the Connecticut civil courts.

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