Super Bowl Party 2021 and Social-host Liability Laws

Throwing a Super Bowl party is one of America’s most enduring social traditions. According to a report from Statista, it is the second-largest day for food and alcohol consumption behind Thanksgiving.  With an estimated 188.5 million people watching the game and participating in household parties, consumers are expected to spend more than $15 billion on food, alcohol, and other party supplies. More than one billion chicken wings will be consumed and pizza companies will see a 350 percent spike in business. In short, Super Bowl parties are a lot of fun.

But what happens when your party goers have a little too much fun? The combination of food, alcohol, and fan passion can sometimes lead to unintended calamities, which can include everything from damaged personal possessions to drunk-driving accidents

Florida Social Host Liability Law

The term “social host” refers to someone who hosts a social gathering. It can include private individuals, employers, and other organizations. Depending on the laws of a particular state, social hosts may be held liable for injuries suffered by their guests and/or third parties who are harmed by someone who was served alcohol by the social host.

In Florida, section 768.125 of the state statutes specifically lays out the circumstances under which someone can be held liable for injury or damage resulting from someone else’s intoxication. It says that a social host who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is under age 21 can be held liable for any injuries or damages that the underage person causes while he or she is intoxicated. The statute also provides that social hosts can be held liable for injuries or damages caused by serving alcohol to a “habitually addicted” person.

Based on Florida’s statute, individuals who allow underage drinking on the property that they own, lease, or control can be held liable if they serve a minor or known alcoholic who then causes property damage or personal injuries to him or herself, or another person. Individuals who could potentially be liable include parents, older siblings or friends, relatives, or neighbors. There also may be no relationship between the social host and the person who causes the damages or injuries, such as when party crashers invade the festivities.

What About Insurance? 

In addition to knowing the legal ins and outs of throwing a Super Bowl party, hosts should also know what their insurance may or may not cover in the event of an accident, either in the home or after someone leaves.

If you serve alcohol to someone under the lawful drinking age and they cause an auto accident, injuring someone, you may not have insurance coverage.  Typically, most policies will have exemptions for criminal acts—for instance, serving a minor—and other intentional acts. The easy solution here, of course, is to not serve or furnish alcohol to those under the lawful drinking age.

But what about accidents caused by those who are legally allowed to drink alcohol? This is where things “get a little stickier.”

The first thing a host needs to check is his or her homeowner insurance liability limits, which typically fall between $100,000 and $300,000. After considering the value of your home and other assets, you might consider increasing the liability limit before hosting a large event like a Super Bowl party.

If increasing your insurance doesn’t make sense, homeowners can also purchase an umbrella policy, which offers additional financial protection if the host maxes out his or her standard liability limit. Most umbrella policies can add $1 million in liability coverage over and above what the homeowner’s policy offers, and that extra coverage costs only a few hundred dollars a year 

Of course, there are myriad non-alcohol-related accidents that may arise before, during, or after a Super Bowl party, in which case a typical homeowner policy should provide adequate coverage.

In the spirit of safe, responsible fun, here are a few common-sense tips for limiting your liability as you prepare to host that next big party:

  • Host the party at an off-site venue, such as a restaurant or bar that is licensed to serve the alcohol
  • Hire a professional bartender who is trained at spotting intoxicated people
  • Encourage everyone to have a designated driver who will refrain from drinking altogether and then is responsible for getting people home safely
  • Stay (relatively) sober – as the host, you will make better decisions if you aren’t intoxicated yourself
  • Never serve alcohol to minors
  • Serve food and have non-alcoholic beverages available for your guests
  • Don’t rush to refill your guests’ drinks or pressure them to drink more than they are comfortable with
  • Call a cab or rideshare for anyone who is too drunk or tired to safely drive home
  • Offer your couch and let them sleep it off at your home if all else fails 

If you follow these common sense rules, everyone will have a great time and you won’t have to worry about the liability of having a Super Bowl party.

Every 90 seconds someone is injured and every 53 minutes someone is killed by a drunk driver in the United States. At the Armour Law Group, we help people who have had their lives forever changed due to the negligence or wrongful conduct of others, including drunk drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured due to an Orlando area alcohol-related accident, contact the Armour Law Group, Lake Nona Personal Injury Attorneys, today for a consultation.