• Homeowners may be responsible for all sorts of injuries to their guests
  • You can protect yourself and your guests with a little planning
  • Serving alcohol, the safety condition of your property, and your insurance coverage are some things to think about


Having people over to your house for a party or celebration? If so, you need to know how to protect yourself and your guests when hosting a party. There are many ways you may be held responsible if someone gets hurt on your property or hurts someone else after leaving the party.

This checklist can help you make your party fun and safe for everyone.


Alcohol is often part of a celebration, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it can cause serious problems for a homeowner. Depending on the laws in your state, you may be responsible for injuries a guest suffers as a result of your serving or allowing alcohol at your party. You may also be responsible if your guest hurts someone else. And you may be liable whether or not the injury or accident happens on your property, such as when a guest gets hurt driving home. So:

  • Make sure your guests don’t drink too much. If they do, cut them off. Stop serving them immediately and ask your other guests to help
  • If a guest has had too much to drink, call him a cab, drive him home or ask a sober guest to, or offer him a place to spend the night. Take his car keys if necessary
  • Don’t let minors drink. In most states, you may be charged with a crime, and if the minor gets hurt or hurts someone else, you may be liable for the injuries and have to pay for medical bills, property damages and other damages
  • If you don’t allow alcohol at a party – like a high school graduation party – and you suspect a guest is drinking, put a stop to it immediately and make sure the guest stays at your house or gets home safely

Your Property

As a property owner, you’re responsible for the safety of your guests when it comes to dangerous conditions on your property. This is especially true if you know about the danger, the danger isn’t obvious to the guests, and you do nothing to fix the problem. Here’s what you need to do:

  • If there are structural problems – such as broken or crumbling steps or rotten deck boards – fix them before the party, or at the very least, rope off the area so guests can’t get near the problem
  • Remove any dangerous items on the property. An old refrigerator that could trap a child or a rusty, broken down swing set are good examples
  • Consider tying up the dog. You may be liable if your pet bites, scratches or otherwise injures a guest
  • Have a pool? If it’s not being used at the party, make sure the fence (many state laws require a fence around pools) is in good condition and the gate is locked. If the law doesn’t require a fence, make sure parents know they need to watch their children, or have an adult supervise the area
  • If the pool is being used at the party, again make sure the parents watch their children or that an adult is supervising the pool. All guests should be told they’re expected to act responsibly in and near the pool. The pool should be clean and sanitary, too. A guest who becomes ill because of contaminated pool water may sue you
  • Campfires and bon fires need to watched carefully. You need to make sure children and other guests can’t get too close. A barrier or an adult supervisor should be used. You should also have a garden hose standing by in case the fire gets out of control
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