Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers: Social Host ResponsibilityDecember 29, 2016
In an effort to impose stricter penalties on adults who allow underage drinking in their homes, a new ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals says that adults will be held civilly liable for any injuries or fatalities caused by the underage individuals who were drinking on their property. The ruling states that the adult host should be held responsible for their underage guests. Underage drivers cannot make responsible decisions when it comes to alcohol consumption, and are more likely to harm themselves and others if they get behind the wheel of a car.
The ruling recognizes what is known as social host liability, which means that anyone who knowingly serves alcohol to someone who is under the age of 21 will be held responsible for the consequences. This is different from the “dram shop laws” which allow an injured person to seek compensation from a bar or restaurant owner who provided the alcohol. Currently, Maryland courts do not allow dram shop claims to be brought in the state.
Guests Cannot Sue the Social Host for Injuries
While the social host liability law states that the adult host could face criminal penalties for providing alcohol to a minor, the law does not allow the underage guest – or any guest for that matter – to sue the host for damages related to the injuries sustained in the accident. For example, if a 19-year-old attends a party at a neighbor’s house and becomes injured after losing their balance from having too much to drink, they may not file a lawsuit against the host of the party for serving her alcohol. However, the host may face criminal charges for serving guests who are underage.
Maryland is one of 18 states that has general social host liability statutes, which means that the law applies to guests of all ages, not just those who are underage. Although it is much less common for a court to hold the host responsible for the actions of an intoxicated guest who is of legal age, it is not unheard of in Maryland.
If an adult is charged with providing alcohol to an underage guest, the penalties can be severe. The first offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $2,500. Subsequent offenses are punishable by fines of up to $5,000.
Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Underage Drinking
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving underage drinking, do not hesitate to contact the Maryland personal injury lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our dedicated, experienced team of lawyers will use aggressive legal strategies to hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent victims of medical malpractice throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.