How You Can Avoid Holiday Lawsuits and Still Be Festive
Before sending out a party invitation or inviting guests over for eggnog and caroling this holiday season, take a moment to ask yourself whether you’re protected in the event your holiday party doesn’t go as planned. Do you have the right home insurance liability coverage if someone were to be injured? If not, you may have to pay your legal costs and the amount of the settlement or judgment against you out of your assets in the event of a lawsuit.
When you host a party or serve alcohol, you’re potentially liable for the safety of your guests. Social host liability is an area of the law that concerns the shared liability of a host and guest in regard to alcohol. That means the host is liable for any injuries (and/or damages) that may happen to the intoxicated person in the host’s home. This concerns not only drinking and driving or actions taken while the guests are intoxicated, but also serving alcohol to an underage guest.
On top of that, winter and the holidays present additional hazards, especially when you have a crowded home full of revelers. Not to worry, there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk and ensure you’re covered. That way, you can focus on the fun and enjoy your company.
How to Avoid a Holiday Lawsuit
Before the party, check your home and property for any potential safety issues such as icy sidewalks and stairs and decorations and extension cords inside your home that are potential trip hazards. Use salt to remove any ice, and then post a warning for your guests so they know to proceed with caution.
Your liability doesn’t end once the guests are inside your home. Could your guests come in with wet or snowy boots? Remember, wet floors are a major slip-and-fall hazard. Put down a non-skid mat that can absorb water.
Look for potential hazards in other areas too. If needed, block off areas of the house, especially if you have pets. Given them a safe haven where they can feel secure, and you’ll avoid potential injury to them or to your guests.
Get rid of as many of these hazards as possible and post a warning about any that remain.
Holiday Safety and Food Hazards
FARE (Food Allergy and Research and Education Studies) works on behalf of the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis. It’s a real issue around the holidays; December has the highest number of emergency room visits caused by anaphylaxis.
Clearly post the ingredients that are in the food you serve. Ask whether anyone has any allergies before serving them. Let people know about any problematic foods, such as nuts or shellfish, and have different choices on the menu so there is something for everyone.
Getting Guests Home Safely
Surprisingly, many people are unaware that serving alcoholic beverages at a private party can open them up to all sorts of liability, especially if an intoxicated guest is harmed – or harms others. If a guest leaves the host’s home, the host still could be liable for injuries or illnesses.
Make sure minors don’t have access to alcohol, and have a plan for getting guests home safely. Take keys at the door and discuss alternate ways to get home from the party. For example, car pools are a great solution; you could also provide a place to sleep for any inebriated guests.
Home Insurance and Your Holiday Party
Proper liability coverage can give you peace of mind when dealing with the excitement and stress of holiday gatherings. A little foresight and planning can reduce your financial burden if an accident happens. Take the time to review your home safety before the party begins, create a plan, and clearly communicate any potential hazards.
Call us at 800.342.5342, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET., and talk to one of our Risk Coaches™ to review your coverage to ensure you haven’t missed any gaps or gotchas. That way, you can focus on the fun while keeping your guests safe.