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Hosting a Party Where Alcohol is Served to Minors

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who stated that my 16-year old high school student daughter was visiting her friend, who was too young to drink alcohol. But, both snuck out to attend a birthday party hosted by an older boy and his parents. Alcohol was served at the party, and many guests were underage. All we know is that my daughter was pushed or fell from a raised deck and was seriously hurt as a result of alcohol consumption. What are our legal rights?

Well, two issues come to mind. First, common law premises liability negligence. Second, negligence for aiding and encouraging a minor to possess alcohol and giving alcohol to a minor.

Common law premises liability is grounded on a breach of a duty of reasonable care upon landowners to protect the safety of social guests. This duty includes carefully monitoring activities on the property that could endanger social guests.

Parents have been held liable for injuries where they failed to monitor a party and were aware or should have been aware of the free availability of alcohol.

Aiding and encouraging a minor to possess alcohol or giving alcohol to a minor can also lead to the parents being held legally liable for the injury to the daughter.

It is illegal to provide alcohol to a minor in Indiana. It is also unlawful to encourage a minor to possess alcohol. Furnishing or giving alcohol to a minor has long been recognized in Indiana as a basis of civil liability. Public policy concerns strongly favor the imposition of civil liability on all persons who violate the alcoholic beverage laws, whether commercial establishments or private individuals.

In investigating such cases, it will be essential to have witnesses to the event in general. It would also be helpful to have blood alcohol readings on the person who was injured and others if possible.

One last issue comes to mind, liability might also rest with the parents that allowed the daughter and her friend to sneak out. Presumably, those parents failed to monitor their own child and her guest.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”