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Throwing your first holiday party? Understand your liability

Are you getting ready to throw your very first holiday party now that you're finally out of your parents' house and on your own? If so, it's smart to be aware of what the law expects from you.

First, Illinois has a specific legal statute aimed at social hosts who supply either alcohol or drugs to anyone age 18 or under. That could put you in an awkward position if some of your old buddies are still 17 and under.

If you have the alcohol or drugs present while you and your buddies are playing video games and then turn a blind eye toward any friend who happens to pick up a beer or smoke a little marijuana, despite his or her age, you could face legal ramifications.

You're considered negligent if you furnish alcohol or drugs to a minor. This means simply making it available for the taking as well as directly handing the alcohol or drug to that person.

If a guest gets in an accident on the way home because of the drugs or alcohol and is injured, your guest could sue you for a personal injury. If he or she is killed, surviving family members could sue you for your friend's wrongful death. If he or she hurts or kills someone else, you could be sued by a third party for those injuries or deaths.

In addition, it's important to take steps to make your home less hazardous for your guests. Tack down rugs with double-stick tape so that nobody trips and falls, and make sure the floors are clear. Put pets away where they can't jump on people and knock them down. You don't want the memory of your first holiday party to be ruined by a slip and fall personal injury case.

The law doesn't expect you to address every possible hazard -- just the ones that are reasonably foreseeable.

If, on the other hand, you find yourself a victim of someone else's negligence, make sure that you explore all your legal options.

Source: FindLaw, "Social Host Liability," accessed Dec. 05, 2017

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