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A Friendly Liquor Liability Reminder

As we head into another great-looking summer weekend, it’s not a bad idea to take a moment for a reminder that anyone involved in serving alcohol at a backyard BBQ party (or any gathering in their home) can be held liable for damages or injuries where alcohol is deemed to have been a contributing factor.

It’s good to know best practices for serving alcohol in your home, what your liability is as well as what to do in the event of a claim. As a homeowner, you have potential liability for bodily injury or property damage arising out of the negligent serving or distribution of alcohol on your property.

Hosting a Party and Serving Alcohol?

You can be held responsible for your guests’ actions if you serve people past the point of intoxication on your property. Hosting a staff party or backyard wedding with several dozen or more guests increases the possibility of you not being able to monitor all alcohol consumption.

Tips for Limiting Alcohol Consumption

The legal threshold for intoxication is lower and courts hold people who serve alcohol to their friends and guests on their property more accountable. Whether you are a homeowner or tenant, you may be held responsible for your guests’ behaviour – even after they leave your property – if you serve them alcohol. Consider the following before you serve alcohol to guests:

  • Ask people when they arrive if they are a designated driver.
  • Ensure many non-alcoholic beverages and food options are available.
  • One hour before you anticipate guests will leave, stop serving alcohol and start serving coffee, tea or water.
  • Have cash on hand for cabs and/or an extra bedroom made up for last-minute overnight guests.
  • Keep watch and don’t hesitate to ask for someone’s keys if you have concerns about their ability to drive.

Your Legal Liability as a Social Host

You may be responsible for your guests when you serve alcohol on your property. Forms of liquor liability include:

  • Liability as a server – serving people past the point of intoxication.
  • Liability as an occupier – a person who owns, has possession of or responsibility for premises are responsible for protecting people on their premises from harm.
  • Anyone involved in the service of alcohol could be held liable for damages or injuries where alcohol is deemed to have been a contributing factor.
  • Liability as an employer regarding employees consuming alcohol, such as at staff parties.
  • Liability as a sponsor of potentially dangerous activities.

3 Steps to Take in the Event of a Claim

  • Immediately contact your insurance representative.
  • Record all relevant information such as the names and contact information of any witnesses who were present or have information relevant to the incident.
  • Refer any discussions with the claimant to your insurer. Do not discuss liability with potential claimant and NEVER ADMIT LIABILITY!

At DPM insurance Group, our brokers and CSRs are familiar with the ins and outs of all forms of insurance, including liability issues which could arise in connection with a party at your home. If you have questions, or would like a free, no-obligation review of your current policies, click here to find the office most convenient for you: https://dpmins.com/locations/


Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada


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