However, sometimes party posts are negligent. In Massachusetts, depending on the nature and consequences of their negligence, they may be held liable in future legal proceedings.
How Massachusetts’s Premises Liability Laws Apply to Party Hosts
All states have premises liability statutes. Although the specific details and wording of these statutes can vary from one state to another, in general, premises liability laws state that the owner of a property is responsible for ensuring the safety of anyone with a legal right to be on said property. This can include employees, customers, and yes, private party guests.
There are various potential ways a negligent party host could allow guests to be injured on their property. Examples include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Allowing underage guests to use a swimming pool, but not monitoring them accordingly
- Failing to properly restrain a dangerous dog or other pet, which could attack party guests
- Failing to ensure a tent or other such structure is sturdy and won’t topple over
- Failing to address tripping or slipping hazards on the property
- Serving guests food without properly cooking it all the way through
Again, those are just a few examples. The main point to remember is that when someone hosts a party in Massachusetts, they are responsible for keeping guests safe.
That’s not to say a party host is always liable when guests injure themselves. Once more, the law only requires hosts to take reasonable steps to guard against accidents. If, for instance, a guest was injured because they chose to engage in unsafe behaviors, the host likely wouldn’t be considered responsible for the consequences of a guest’s own poor choices.
What if a Party Isn’t on a Host’s Property?
Under Massachusetts’s social host law, to some extent, a party host may still be considered liable when guests harm themselves or others, even if they hosted a party on someone else’s property.
Consider the following examples. In one example, a party host decides to organize an event at a local bar or restaurant. In this case, the owner of the establishment is technically responsible for addressing hazardous conditions. Thus, if someone were to be injured in a slip and fall or similar accident, although there may be exceptions, typically, the party host would not be considered negligent in these circumstances.
On the other hand, maybe a party host is organizing an event in a hotel room. During said party, the hotel room is under their control to some degree. That means, if the party host served alcohol to underage guests (or simply allowed alcohol to be served to such guests), and these guests later harmed someone in an accident, assault, or similar alcohol-related incident, the party host could be held liable.