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Homeowners and Guests at Holiday Parties


Party hosts are obligated to maintain a safe environment for their guests, and many are unaware that they may be legally liable if an accident occurs and results in injuries. As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to understand how to protect your guests and avoid these situations from transpiring.

Here are some statistics: of all fatal traffic accidents during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years from 2009 to 2013, nearly four in ten (38%) were alcohol-related; Thanksgiving was the most dangerous time and averaged over 400 deaths per year. Falling accidents are a leading cause of deaths at home, averaging nearly 6,000 per year, and in 2010 alone there were also over 660,000 hospitalizations among adults for slip-and-falls at home. As such, it is important to remember that a homeowner’s standard minimum of $100,000 for liability insurance may be insufficient if a guest is injured in your home, and some insurance experts recommend increasing this coverage within a range of $100,000 to $300,000. Those who have “significant assets” in addition to their homes may also be encouraged to consider umbrella policies for added protection.

“Holiday cheer” often involves responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages, but if a guest leaves a party and later gets into an accident due to intoxication – resulting in injury and/or property damage – the homeowner may be responsible in some situations. Tips to ensure everyone’s safety include:

  • Encourage designated drivers, whether they are also attending the party or arriving at a later time
  • Serve food and be sure to stock plenty of non-alcoholic beverages
  • Be willing to “cut off” intoxicated guests and ensure they will either be driven home or stay overnight
  • Never allow minors to consume alcohol within your home
  • As the host and homeowner, never drink too much yourself

You are also responsible for protecting guests from any unsafe conditions on the property. As such:

  • Repair any tripping hazards, like loose handrails or broken stairs
  • Remove any items which may be dangerous to children, such as broken swings, old freezers, or poison hazards
  • Keep steps and sidewalks free of ice and snow during winter months
  • Consider restraining pets such as large dogs to avoid being liable for a guest being bitten or scratched

If you or a loved one has been injured on another’s property due to negligence, contact Mike Agruss Law, LLC for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you.

Lastly, Mike Agruss Law is not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.

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