Insurance Implications of Serving Alcohol to Minors

June 28, 2012
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Serving Alcohol to Minors – What are the Insurance Implications?

Serving alcohol to minors is illegal! Let us put that out there before we go on with this blog.

Have you ever thought it is ok to give your child and their friends alcohol because they were safe in your house and you could monitor them? Maybe after prom to make sure they are not going anywhere or at a holiday party such as the 4th of July? Did you know that a host who makes alcohol available to an underage guest is liable to a third party’s injured by the intoxicated or impaired minor guest? According to Massachusetts law, the host is liable regardless if the minor guest was visibly intoxicated or not.

I am sure you are thinking “but it is a controlled situation and I do not allow the children to leave the house or drive”. But what if a fight breaks out and someone is injured? What is someone loses his or her footwork and sends another guest down the stairs? It sounds impossible but when minors start to consume alcohol it is hard to say what will or will not happen. Either way, if you are serving alcohol to minors you will be held legally liable for that injured party.

There are other situations where you, as a parent, leave on vacation and your child stays home without any other adult supervision. They might throw a party and steal liquor from your cabinet to give to the guests at the party. The state of Massachusetts has not made a decision on this one yet but instead of waiting to find out during the trial think ahead and make sure to lock up or empty the cabinets before you leave on vacation or go away for a night or two.

There is one situation where you would not be liable under MA law and that is if the minor guests bring their own alcohol. In that case you did not furnish, pay for or control the alcohol therefore not held liable. Again, if you do choose to allow your children and their minor friends to party at your house, just keep that liquor cabinet locked so you dont wind up in a case where the court can show even a small drop of your alcohol was consumed.

Above all else, keep in mind that you may find yourself free of liability but what about your child? Especially if you have an older sibling provide alcohol to his or her younger sibling and friends, they will be held to the same standards that you were by providing alcohol to minors.

Please remember that serving alcohol to minors is illegal and on top of the fine and imprisonment you would receive you will be held responsible for those third party injuries or deaths that arise. Be safe and and let your kids party somewhere else!