Can the organizers of a family reunion be sued if a family member drinks too much and causes an accident/injury?

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Can the organizers of a family reunion be sued if a family member drinks too much and causes an accident/injury?

We have a family reunion at a rented hall. All attendees pay to come which includes the cost of self-serve alcohol. If someone gets in an accident after drinking there and hurts or kills someone, can the committee members be sued? Can the other attendees be sued?

Asked on July 1, 2011 under Personal Injury, Michigan

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You need to check with the hall from which you are renting to determine if they carry insurance and make sure you get a copy of the insurance policy. Next, you need to determine if your state has laws on serving alcohol and who can and whether you need a license to have self-serve alcohol at the hall. If the hall doesn't have a license and you don't get one, you may not be allowed to bring it in the hall to drink. If this is a family reunion, you need to be cognizant of the laws surrounding serving alcohol to minors or minors being in possession of alcohol. Under traditional negligence theories, your group could be sued if you continue to allow alcohol to be served to anyone and they go and cause an accident, kill someone or kill themselves. This is usually a dram shop act (think when bars are liable for patrons who are not stopped from drinking and cause an accident -- the latest being the star from the reality show who drank at a bar all night and crushed his porsche). The same laws often apply to those who serve guests in their own homes.


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