Hosting a party? Party host’s liability is real!
Spring is in the air and BBQ season is returning! It is time to dust off the grill, and invite family and friends over. It invariably follows that beer, wine, and mixed drinks will come with the summer celebrations as well.
But what happens if someone leaves your house, drives home and gets into a motor vehicle accident while impaired?
Who is responsible for the injuries that are sustained in this accident?
Commercial premises have often been found responsible for injuries incurred by their inebriated patrons if they are found to have served alcohol up to the point of intoxication. Could such a finding of responsibility be applied to a social host?
Up until now, no.
The Globe and Mail interviewed one of the leading experts in personal injury literature in this piece: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/if-my-guests-drive-drunk-am-i-responsible/article6260647/
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Childs v Desormeaux, 2006 SCC 18 that a social host does not have a duty to protect the public if one of its guests creates an accident while intoxicated. This duty of care does not exist, and the Supreme Court was not in a situation that warranted its creation. The social hosts here hosted a New Years Eve bring-your-own-booze (BYOB) party at their residence. While they walked the guest to his car, they were unaware of the amount of alcohol that he had consumed as they did not monitor their guests’ alcohol intake.
But it could, and it will probably happen one day.
The previous two judgments in this case, at trial and in appeals court, decided that the social hosts were not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries for other reasons. They decided that the relationship between the social hosts and their guest was not close enough to warrant such a duty of care. The social hosts did not provide alcohol to their guests as it was a BYOB, they did not monitor or control their guests’ alcohol intake and they were not his employers.
However, if an accident occurs in the future where these conditions are otherwise—the employers provided alcohol to their employees, or the social hosts controlled their guests’ intake of alcohol or assumed their safety in any other way—then courts may have sufficient grounds to impose a new duty of care onto social hosts.
If you host a party, be aware that you may be responsible for the injuries your intoxicated guest causes to someone else.
Our Ottawa personal injury and accident lawyers are specifically trained to deal with such matters.
If you or someone you care about was injured in an accident, please contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation. We work on a no-fee-until-you-win basis. Call us at 613-315-4878.