Holiday season comes with party liability

To the Editor:

Being a Liability Adjuster, I observed that many homeowners and party hosts are not aware of their responsibilities when inviting people to their homes and serving food and drink. Hosts should be aware that if someone drives drunk or becomes sick after consuming food at a holiday party at your home, you the host could be liable. In fact a casserole could bring just as many risks as a cocktail. Investigating several cases, I found that a homeowner had served food in their home that the food served was prepared by someone else. That means many homeowners have placed themselves at risk for a lawsuit just by feeding their guests.

Weather the food came from a pizza parlor or a five star catering service, if you served the food from your home and someone gets ill, you will most properly be liable. Even a simple pot-luck dinner at a church social, American Legion and the list goes on from there. Food poisoning could result in a legal liability suit. So WATCH OUT FOLKS.

Investigating several cases, many states have enacted statues that can be interpreted as mandating non-commercial social host liability. So, if a guest or a third party is injured in an automobile accident that is related to alcohol consumption and the drinking can be linked to the host (homeowner), that host could be held responsible for payments of medical bills, loss of wages and vehicle damage. The list can go on and on. Especially in a worst case -- wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.

Solutions. Host can arrange transportation for their guests if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can also provide them with overnight accommodations. Bottom DO NOT serve your guests who are visibly intoxicated. While party goers and hosts should act responsible and know their limits, consumers need to acknowledge that most risks cannot be entirely eliminated. Last solution secure a personal "Umbrella" liability policy -- providing at least $1 million or more in additional coverage over and above your homeowner policy.

When a host (s) is/are responsible for a liability incident, the guest (claimant) may retain an attorney and seek out a sizable settlement. When a claim is presented and once I investigate all the facts and find that the claimant's attorney has a weak case, then I can negotiate a lesser claim. Once the claimants attorney realize that his/her case is weak, then we won.


John Kroeger

Waterford, Vt.


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