Can a Party Guest Sue After a Drunk Driving Accident?
Your neighbors leave their three sons alone for the weekend. As soon as the parents walk out the door, they decide to throw a party. Alcohol is served to the underage guests. One of the guests decides it’s time to leave and it’s clear that he is intoxicated and shouldn’t drive. However, no one stops him as he gets in his car and drives home. He backs out of the driveway too fast and hits a passing car. The guest is a little banged up but the driver of the other vehicle breaks her arm. What happens next?
Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar scenario. Since the intoxicated guest was driving while under the influence and is underage, that guest should be expecting a criminal case in the future. But what about his injuries or the other driver’s? Is it possible to sue the hosts for the party?
This sounds like a case of social host liability. New Jersey law states that party hosts are liable for any alcohol-related injuries that occur because alcohol was provided to an accident victim at the time of the accident. The state statute also says that social hosts are liable for third-party injuries that were caused by a guest who was:
- Visibly intoxicated at the time of the accident
- The injuries were a direct result of the operation of a vehicle by that guest
- The host failed to prevent the guest from driving
However, it’s important to note that New Jersey’s social host liability law states that the hosts are not responsible for any injuries the guest sustains – only the third party involved in the accident (in this scenario, the driver who broke her arm). So the intoxicated guest is not allowed to just turn around and sue the hosts or the hosts’ parents. But the driver can.
This may also be a case of negligent supervision. A negligent supervision claim is when a child is hurt or property is damaged because the caregivers at the time failed to supervise that child. Because the parents had left their sons alone for the weekend without proper supervision, they may be held liable for this accident. However, it’s best to speak with an experienced Jersey City attorney before any claims are made.
If you were involved in an accident with a drunk party guest, you may be able to get compensation. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.