Holiday Parties and the Law - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/8/03

Holiday Parties and the Law

More than half of the United States hold social hosts liable if their guests are involved in a drinking and driving crime. That's not the case in Texas, but you can be sued. That means there are important things to remember regarding holiday parties, whether you're a guest or a host.

If you're welcoming party-goers into your home this holiday season, you may want to talk to your insurance agent first. Though Texas does not hold home-owners liable for the actions of their guests and their decisions to drink and drive, the possibility for a lawsuit is still there. Jim Zachary of Short Insurance, says, "Everyone should not just for this reason, but for lots of reasons, make sure they've got the maximum amount insurance will allow them to carry."

Jim says you should sit down with your agent, ask questions about your coverage amounts and find out what circumstances are covered. However, most of the responsibility is on the holiday party-goer who chooses to drink and drive. Lindsay Nickle of Jones, Flygare, Brown and Wharton, says that was the decision of the Texas Legislature. "Since most hosts do not have a license, they can not be held liable for provision of alcohol to a guest in their home regardless of the guests age."

Liable or not, that doesn't mean you won't have to deal with a guilty conscience if something horrible happens to your guests if they drink and drive. Here's some tips whether you're hosting a personal or work party.

  • Limit the amount of alcohol that is served.
  • Serve food high in starch and protein that slow alcohol absorption.
  • Arrange for alternate transportation or for guests to stay overnight.
  • Have someone stay sober and act as monitor at the party.
  • Avoid self-service bars
  • Provide activities that do not involve drinking

If you're an employer throwing a holiday party, it's important to follow the tips we've given to avoid employees who become "too friendly" after a few drinks. There is the risk that an employee could sue for sexual harassment.

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