Every party host wants their guests to have a good time. Many people try to do that by providing access to plenty of alcohol. But if you let your guests drive home drunk, you’re risking a lot more than them waking up with a hangover. If one of your guests gets into a wreck and injures someone else, YOU could also be held at fault, even if they were the one driving.
What to Know About Georgia’s Social Host Liability Law
You may already know that bars and restaurants are legally required to stop serving alcohol to people who are visibly intoxicated. That is where the old cliché on television shows and movies of a bartender saying, “alright buddy, I’m cutting you off” comes from.
This liability is based on “dram shop” laws, that hold a bar legally responsible for harm caused by a drunk driver if they were the one to supply the driver with alcohol, and knew or should have known they were intoxicated and might be driving. What many people don’t know is that it’s not only bars and other businesses that serve alcohol that can be held liable: private individuals who provide others alcohol can as well!
This is important to know, because many party hosts may feel uncomfortable telling their friends or family members to slow down or stop drinking. They may also feel it is okay to allow a minor to drink, as long as it is in the privacy of a home and under the supervision of an adult.
However, according to Georgia’s “social host liability” laws, if you supply alcohol to a minor or a person who has already been drinking when you know or can assume that person will be driving after drinking, you could also be held liable for damages they cause in a crash.
Related reading: Can Bars and Restaurants Be Held Liable for Drunk Drivers?
Who Do I Sue When I’m Injured by a Drunk Driver?
Drunk driving crashes often cause serious, and even fatal, injuries. Worse, the people hit are often more badly injured than the drunk driver who caused the crash. If you were injured in a wreck caused by a drunk driver, the drunk driver can be held liable for your medical bills and pain and suffering. But if they are uninsured, or don’t have enough insurance to cover all your bills, you may need to get compensation elsewhere. Your own uninsured motorist coverage can be used if there is no coverage or not enough.
Related reading: How Much UIM Auto Insurance Do I Need?
If the person who hit you got drunk at a bar, you could potentially sue the bar under “dram shop” laws. But if they got drunk at someone’s home, you could file a lawsuit against the host if there is proof that the host of the party was responsible.
If you need to get compensation from a social host, the burden of proof is on you to prove the following:
- The social host provided alcohol to the person who injured you.
- The social host knew or should have known that that person was EITHER under 21, OR already intoxicated (stumbling, slurring their words, etc.).
- The social host knew that that person planned to drive.
Proving these three things can be difficult, and the host will always deny the charges. We recommend hiring a lawyer who is experienced with social host liability and Georgia dram shop laws, and who can gather the facts and evidence you need! Our firm offers free consultations and is ready to help walk you through your potential claim and how you might get compensation for your injuries.
Social Hosts Have a Responsibility to Keep People Safe
Everyone, including social hosts, owe a “duty of care” to the people around them, which means you have a legal responsibility to not do anything reckless or irresponsible that could put others in danger.
The dangers of drinking and driving are well known. If someone drives drunk, they can and should be held responsible, because they knew it was dangerous and did it anyway. But it’s not just reckless actions that can make people liable. Reckless inaction—when you could have done something simple and easy to prevent someone else from almost certainly being injured but deliberately decided not to do it—can also make people liable.
That means if a host KNOWS their guest plans to drink and drive, and gives them more alcohol anyway, they are contributing to the harm, and the law says they can also be held responsible.
Contact a Georgia Drunk Driving Crash Lawyer
The laws that surround third-party liability and when someone besides a drunk driver can be sued after a wreck are often confusing. These types of claims are hard to prove, and insurance companies will take advantage of that to deny your claim. You need someone experienced with social host liability in Georgia, and our firm is that.
Call today to speak to a lawyer about how we can help get you the money you deserve.