Hosting a party naturally involves some degree of responsibility. To a reasonable extent, a party host must make an attempt to ensure the safety of all guests. For example, perhaps someone is hosting a backyard barbecue. If so, they must make a reasonable attempt to minimize the chances of hazards on the property putting guests at risk of harm.

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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.

A party guest or other such individual who is injured because of a host’s negligence may seek compensation for various losses resulting from their injuries.

Damages Available to Injured Party Guests in Massachusetts

A party guest or other such individual who is injured because of a host’s negligence may seek compensation for various losses resulting from their injuries. The specific damages they may seek will depend on various factors.

For example, injuries typically require medical treatment. A victim of negligence could file a claim with the insurer of a negligent party host to seek compensation for the cost of treatment. They may also seek compensation for lost wages if they were unable to work while they recovered from their injuries.

Some severe injuries can also cause victims to struggle with intangible, non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Victims may also seek compensation for these losses when filing claims, although whether they are eligible to receive compensation for such damages isn’t guaranteed and can vary on a case-by-case basis.

Remember, party guests aren’t the only ones who could take legal action against negligent hosts. Victims who were injured outside of a party because a host allowed underage guests to consume alcohol or drugs may also be eligible for compensation.

Keep all this in mind the next time you ever host a party in Massachusetts. In addition, if you’re ever injured at a party someone else hosts, strongly consider reviewing your case with a lawyer. A Boston personal injury attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C., can explain your legal options. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at (617) 742-1900 to request a free consultation.

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If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: James Swartz
Mr. Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.

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