Can a Social Host Be Legally Liable at a Holiday Work Party in RI?


Hosting a holiday party  in Rhode Island can be a wonderful event for friends, even when the event involves work associates. However, when party goers are consuming alcohol, the host has responsibilities to ensure that everyone remains safe.

If you are hosting a Christmas work party in RI , New Year’s Eve party, college reunion, Super Bowl party or other event where alcohol is involved, you will need to follow specific steps to limit your liability in case someone suffers injuries by a drunken guest. It is essential to ensure you have insurance coverage to host any alcohol-related event.

Legally, social host liability in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations covers civil and criminal responsibility of any individual furnishing liquor to others as guests. Social host liability can hold you legally responsible if an individual consuming alcohol at your event causes injuries to another in an accident after leaving your party. Dram shop liability is often involved when a victim is injured from a drunk driver who has left a bar, tavern, restaurant, or other alcohol serving establishment. However, the law also extends to social hosts events.

If an individual who becomes drunk at your party injures another after leaving the event in a vehicle accident or other type of incident, you can be held legally liable as a third party. You might also be legally responsible for financial compensation to any passenger in the vehicle driven by the drunken guests who has suffered injuries in the accident.


During the planning stages of a party held in your home where you will be the host, it is essential to speak with an insurance company representative to understand the limits of your homeowner policy. . However, most insurance policies have limitations of $100,000-$300,000, which might not be adequate for the liability you face if a drunk guests kills another motorist in a fatal drunk driving crash.

There are specific steps you can take to minimize your liability including changing the venue from your home to a bar or restaurant that has a liquor license. Hiring a professional bartender for your home event can also help. Many bartenders have received training on how to recognize typical signs of intoxication. As a part of the event, you can promote designated driving by encouraging your party guests to select the designated driver to ensure everyone returns home safe.

Hosting a Party at Work

Many businesses in Rhode Island will host a party for their employees during the holiday season. However, excessive drinking at these events often result in significant injury and damage when a drunken employee harms or kills another after leaving the party. As a social host, you can be held liable if you serve alcohol to a minor or guests already intoxicated at the party.

If the social event is held during business hours, you can avoid serving alcohol altogether. You can also consider another hosting option by holding a holiday party at a bar or restaurant licensed to serve your employees alcohol.

It is essential to be a responsible host of your event by staying continuously aware of who is drinking alcohol and how much they have consumed. Consider talking to a RI Personal Injury attorney about the disadvantages and advantages of posting a holiday party and the extent of your liability if an employee is involved in a car accident after they have left your party.

Any individual harmed through your negligence can hire a  RI personal injury attorney to file a claim against you, seeking financial damages to cover their losses. The compensation you owe will likely cover their medical expenses, lost wages, suffering, pain and any other physical, emotional or mental damages.

If a person is killed in a a deadly drunk driving accident in Rhode island and Providence Plantations then the estate of the deceased could file a wrongful death cause of action against the social host as a result of the fatality.

Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.


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