Protect Yourself and Guests When Hosting a Party
Are you having people over to your house for a party or celebration? If so, you need to know how to protect yourself and your guests when celebrating this summer. There are many ways you may be held responsible if a guest gets hurt on your property or hurts someone else after leaving the party.
This checklist can help you make your party fun and safe for everyone.
Alcohol is often part of a celebration and there’s nothing wrong with that. Alcohol consumption, however, can cause serious problems for a homeowner. Depending on the laws in your state, you may be responsible for injuries a guest suffers as a result of your serving or allowing alcohol at your party. You may also be responsible if your guest hurts someone else and you may be liable even if the injury or accident occurs away from your property (such as when a guest gets hurt driving home).
-Make sure your guests don’t drink and drive.
-If a guest has had too much to drink, call them a cab, drive them home, ask a sober guest to drive them, or offer them a place to spend the night. Even take their car keys if necessary.
-Naturally, you should never let minors drink…in fact, you can be charged with a crime if this occurs.
-If you don’t allow alcohol at a party (for example, a high school graduation party) and you suspect a guest is drinking, put a stop to it immediately and make sure the guest stays at your house or is driven home.
As a property owner, you’re responsible for the safety of your guests when it comes to dangerous conditions on your property. This is especially true if you know about the danger, the danger isn’t obvious to the guests, and you do nothing to fix the problem. Here’s what you need to do:
-If there are structural problems – such as broken/crumbling steps or rotten deck boards – fix them before the party or, at the very least, rope off the area so guests can’t get near the problem.
-Remove any dangerous items on the property. An old refrigerator that could trap a child or a rusty, broken-down swing set are good examples.
-Consider boarding or confining the dog because you will be liable if your pet bites, scratches or otherwise injures a guest.
-Have a pool? If it’s not being used at the party, make sure the fence (many state laws require a fence around pools) is in good condition and the gate is locked. If the law doesn’t require a fence, make sure parents know they need to watch their children, or have an adult supervise the area.
-If the pool is being used at the party, again, make sure the parents watch their children or that an adult is supervising the pool at all times. All guests should be told they’re expected to act responsibly in and near the pool. The pool should be clean and sanitary too as a guest who becomes ill because of contaminated pool water may sue you.
-Campfires and bon fires need to be watched carefully. You need to make sure children and other guests can’t get too close. A barrier or an adult supervisor should be used and you should also have a garden hose standing-by in case the fire gets out of control.
Your homeowner’s insurance policy is your best protection in case someone is hurt during your party.
To help protect yourself, in the event you are sued, you should make sure:
-Your insurance is up-to-date and in-force.
-The policy limits are high enough (for example, if a guest is injured they can sue you for medical bills, lost wages for missing work, pain and suffering, etc.) If you don’t have enough coverage the guest may sue you for the additional amount not covered by your policy. Warren G. Bender Co. recommends you carry a minimum of one and a half times your assets.
Respect Your Neighbors
If you’re like most of us and you have neighbors, be courteous. These steps can save you aggravation and money:
-Keep the music and other activities at a reasonable level. Loud music and a lot of screaming may prompt a neighbor to call the police and you could get a ticket for disturbing the peace.
-Some communities have a “quiet hour” when loud activities are supposed to end. You will want to be sure and check with your Homeowners Association and/or local authorities.
-Remind your guests not to block neighbors’ driveways or drive/park on their lawns. Their cars may be towed and a neighbor may ask you to pay for the damage to his/her lawn.
With a little planning, everyone will have a good time at your party and they’ll be safe during and afterward. As a bonus, you may save yourself the financial costs and headaches that come with being sued. If an injury does occur or you are sued, call your agent right away to file a claim. Warren G. Bender Co. is always available to share our expertise with you and your family and friends. We are more than happy to review your current coverages and ensure you are properly covered.