So, your teenager wants to have a party at your house. First of all, if your teenager wants to actually bring a pack of their friends over, you should be flattered. That means you have a bit more of the “cool factor” than they’ve probably been giving you credit for. However, before you say “Sure!” too quickly, there are some things that you should keep in mind.
There has been more than one (or 20) teen parties in the past that have gotten out of hand and resulted in parents being held legally liable for what has transpired as a direct result. For this reason, alone, more parents should be cautious about allowing their kids to have a party without them being present (even if “out of sight” means the parents are in their bedroom). That said, if you’re wondering about just what your liability is when it comes to hosting a party for your teen, you’ve come to the right (preventative reading) place.
Be Careful About Being the Social Hostest with the Mostest
Technically, if someone comes to your house, you (the person with the name on the deed) are the social host. In the context of this article, a social host is considered to be someone who gives alcohol to guests without expecting payment in return. Although the fine print varies from state-to-state, in most of them, the social host parent is held legally liable for any alcohol that they either served to minors or for the alcohol that underage drinkers had while being in their home. This is especially the case if that minor leaves the premises and gets into an accident. While they too are held responsible for their actions, the social host is held accountable as well. This is also the case with illegal drug use.
What Are the Penalties?
In the case that someone leaves your home and causes an accident or even encounters an injury while being at your place of residence, the parent who was at the house at the time that drinking or substance abuse took place can actually face a civil lawsuit and sometimes even criminal charges. This means potentially being out of thousands of dollars, and even the possibility of facing jail time. This is just one more reason why having liability insurance is imperative so that it can cover any property damages or the cost of a suit that may be filed against you in unfortunate instances like these.
How Can You Prevent This from Happening?
There are steps that you can take to keep the risks of underage drinking or illegal substance abuse from transpiring on your premises.
- Keep a number of teens down to a specific number (a relatively low one).
- Greet each one at the door and do an inspection if and when necessary, especially when it comes to any suspicious behavior.
- Check in on the party periodically (teens usually don’t prepare themselves for the element of “parental surprise”) and see the teens off, individually, at the end of the party, so that you can inspect them before leaving your home.
OK, that part may not seem too cool to your kids, but if you discuss it with them beforehand, at least they’ll be prepared. And if you approach the teen guests as a courteous parent rather than a strict warden, chances are, they’ll be cool with a pop in or two as well. After all, if they have nothing to hide, what should be the problem with you walking around in your own house, party or not, right? Exactly.
Carol Montrose is a contributing writer for Public Liability Insurance where you can find and compare the best insurance rates. Learn more about PLI online.