We attend the ugly sweater parties, the family traditions, and most common, attending the annual work party. Many companies spend weeks, even months, planning their holiday party. They plan everything from where the event will take place down to the type of silverware placed on the table. However, one aspect of the event planning people tend to forget is liquor liability insurance.
Most would like to think their guests are mature, responsible adults who know their limit.
During the holidays that thought process tends to escape the mind of most people. 20% of survey respondents in a 2010 survey by Forbes have said they had too much to drink at a holiday party. We see results of this every year on the news of that one person who made the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a holiday party and taking the life of another driver in a fatal car accident. Many think the only person responsible for this accident is the driver, but in many cases, attorneys will sue anyone who may have been responsible including the host, owners, event planners, bartenders, and servers.
Issues arising from the company holiday party could be extreme and some could be just plain embarrassing.
Three possible extreme scenarios include:
- Your guests get in an automobile accident on the way home, injuring a family of three.
- You or one of your guests is injured during the festivities like this scenario in an article by National Public Radio, “At an office party four years ago, a fellow co-worker brought eggnog that contained whiskey, Scotch, as well as bourbon. … It was delicious and the booze was nigh-undetectable. Everyone became incredibly sloshed. … As the night progressed, someone made a makeshift slip-and-slide in the warehouse that was quite fun until the IT guy of the office broke his collarbone going face first and 911 was called. We still talk about this office party to this day.”
- Damage to the property from someone allegedly being overserved.
So how do you keep things under control? Here are 10 ways to help prevent a lawsuit from arising from your company holiday party.
- Hold your function earlier in the afternoon when people tend to drink less.
- There is a reason Fenway park stops serving alcohol after the seventh inning stretch. They are thinking about the safety of their guests and you should too. Stop serving alcohol a few hours before the party is expected to end. Cut off drinks during dinner or dessert to give people a rest from consuming.
- Offer Uber gift cards or recommend overnight accommodations to guests.
- Offer entertainment like dancing, a photo booth, team games or a comedian so people have something to do other than drink.
- Invite families. People are less likely to go a little crazy with the spouse or kids at a company holiday party.
- Encourage guests to use transportation such as Uber, Lyft or a taxi to and from the party.
- Serve food at the event.
- Don’t let people serve themselves, hire a trained staff to serve and monitor guest’s alcohol consumption.
- Make sure bartenders and caterers are TIPS certified.
- Only offer beer and wine.
Without liquor liability insurance, you can be held responsible and sued for allowing them to become intoxicated and proceeding to operate a vehicle.
Do you still think liquor liability isn’t a necessity?
Laws regarding liquor licenses and liquor liability coverage vary by state, so it is important to be aware of the laws in your state before planning an event where alcohol is going to be served.