Hosting a party at your home can be a fun way to connect with your friends and family - especially around graduation time. However, it’s important to ensure the safety of your guests while you’re hosting them. There are countless ways that you can be held legally responsible if someone gets hurt on your property. So take the right steps to keep your guests safe from harm, and yourself safe from a personal injury claim.
Here are some considerations for protecting guests and your home during a party:
- Slips and falls are the most common dangers in residential properties. To protect your guests, make sure that rugs or cords don’t create tripping hazards, and spills or splashes are dried immediately.
- Remove any dangerous items on your property. Children love to explore, so it's best to remove the temptation or hazard an old refridgerator or broken fence might pose.
- If you serve alcohol during a party, you can be held liable for a guest who becomes intoxicated and then drives home.
- Make sure that none of your guests overindulge, and always have a backup plan so no one drinks and drives.
- Don't let minors drink. In most states, you may be charged with a crime for letting a minor consume alcohol at your house, and if the minor gets hurt or hurts someone else, you may be liable for the resulting injuries, property damage, and other losses.
- If you’ve made clear that you aren’t allowing alcohol at your party and you suspect a guest is drinking, put a stop to it immediately and make sure the guest stays at your house or gets home safely.
- Unattended children at a party can get injured or cause damage to your property, so it’s a good idea to assign them with a supervisor.
- Excessive noise could become a nuisance to your guests and neighbors. Don’t be afraid of turning down the volume of any music or other entertainment at your party, or of asking guests to quiet down.
- If you have pets, they could become agitated or even aggressive toward your guests due to the noise from the party. Consider putting your pets in a closed bedroom to keep them calm and your guests safe.
- Valuable and fragile items aren’t always covered under a typical homeowners policy. Take a moment to think about where your guests will gather during the party, and move any valuable or fragile items from that area.
- If your party extends past sunset, add extra lighting to ensure that all paths are well lit.
- When hosting a pool party, it's wise to assign several adults to the job of “lifeguard” for all swimmers. These individuals should not drink alcohol and should stay on constant alert for swimmers in distress. Keep a phone handy in case you need to call 9-1-1.
Your homeowner's insurance can be your best protection in case someone is hurt during your party, so be sure it's up-to-date and in force before the festivities begin. Before planning a party you should review your policy for any situations excluded from coverage. What is covered under can vary from policy to policy. Things to watch out for:
- Your policy may only cover the house or structure, meaning things like walls and floors.
- Coverage may apply only to accidental damage.
Never wonder if you have the appropriate coverage for a certain situation. When questions arise, contact Marshall & Sterling for answers. With a little planning, everyone will have a good -- and safe -- time at your party, and you’ll save yourself the costs and headaches that could come with facing a lawsuit.