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Social Host Responsibility and Drunk Driving Injuries

High school graduation is often a cause for celebration, and summertime parties to acknowledge the accomplishment of the successful students and their friends are quite popular. At some of these events, alcohol may be served or accessible to the teenage guests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 10 teenagers drinks and drives, and it is important to understand the responsibility, liability and other issues related to the possible injuries.

Teenagers and Drunk Driving Statistics

Of underage drinkers, 56.2 percent reported that they had consumed alcohol at another person's house. With high school graduation parties taking place throughout the summer, there may be ample opportunities for underage teens to drink a beer or imbibe another alcoholic beverage. If those teenagers then get in the car, drive and cause an accident that injures passengers in another vehicle or their own, the liability and responsibility could be complicated. The party hosts, the teenager involved and other parties could all be implicated. An Allentown injury attorney may be able to provide you with legal representation when you or your child has experienced a personal injury related to drunk driving.

Understanding Social Host Liability

If you or a family member was injured by a teenager who had consumed alcohol at a graduation party, you might want to know about the social host's liability. In this context, a social host refers to someone who invites others to a party or gathering at an indoor or outside location and provides guests with alcohol at no charge. The setting could be the host's home, boat, campsite, park shelter or rented lodge. Teenagers might put alcohol into a container of soda or a paper cup and mix it with something else so that parents or hosts might not realize the alcohol consumption was going on. In Pennsylvania, social hosts may be subjected to civil or criminal penalties if underage individuals consume alcohol and get into an accident that leads to injuries.

When Can a Social Host Be Sued?

A social host may be subject to a lawsuit. If you or your child experienced a personal injury caused by a drunken teenage driver, a Philadelphia accident lawyer from our firm may be able to bring a case against the social host. Social host responsibility means that the host could be partly liable for harm caused by an underage drinker who consumed alcohol while a guest at the gathering in question.

Civil Versus Criminal Penalties for Social Hosts

The burden of proof for criminal penalties is with the government, and the law requires significant evidence in order to prove the criminal liability of a social host. Civil liability might be easier to pursue. The burden of proof is lower for civil cases related to personal injuries. Some of the questions to consider include whether the injuries received as a result of the impaired teenager’s driving were foreseeable, whether there was a duty on the part of the host to foresee the possibility and if there were good reasons why the host should have taken extra care or precautions to prevent the outcome.

Determining Social Host Responsibility for Your Injuries

The law is not always clear in matters of social host responsibility. If the teenagers brought alcohol to the party unbeknownst to the host and the host had never provided alcohol to the teens in the past, that social host might not have any liability under the law. Similarly, if the host offered the teen a ride home and the youth refused, the liability might be mitigated or nonexistent. On the other hand, if the social host had provided alcohol in the past or did not exercise reasonable judgment on this occasion, the law might find him or her at fault. Meeting with our attorneys may help you to gain an understanding of how the social host situation would work in your case.

A Philadelphia accident lawyer may be able to represent you in your personal injury case and explain your rights under Pennsylvania law. Contact us at the Law Office of Metzger & Kleiner today at 610-435-7400 or 215-567-6616 to speak with an attorney. Both Daniel E. Kleiner and Lawrence G. Metzger are at your disposal. If you wish to learn more, you may also visit our offices located at 2 Penn Center, Suite 1204, Philadelphia, PA 19102 and 137 North Fifth Street, Allentown, PA 18102.

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