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The Social Host Doctrine and Your Personal Injury Case


Imagine you are having a Super Bowl party with all your close friends. You buy lots of alcohol and even a keg. Your best friend from college is coming. He likes to drink, and you haven’t seen him in a while, so you decide to serve him several shots. You both have a bit too many. You know he drove, but don’t consider how he will get home.

At the end of the night, your friend tries to drive himself home. Unfortunately, he causes a terrible car accident involving a family of four. All four members of the family are injured and taken to the hospital.

The Host May Be Liable for Injury to Others

In the case involving your friend’s accident, the family could seek damages not only from your friend but also from you as the party’s host. That’s right: You could be held liable for their injuries and damages. This is based on the Social Host Doctrine, which provides an avenue for injured third parties to attempt to go after and seek compensation from those who hosted a party that resulted in a guest of that party leaving and causing an accident.

The social host liability does not apply only to cases where the host served alcohol to persons under 21 years of age. It applies to any situation where a guest became intoxicated at a party and caused injury to others, regardless of the guest’s age.

The Elements of the Social Host Doctrine

The Social Host Doctrine is a common-law negligence theory, which, as defined by the North Carolina Supreme Court in Camalier v. Jeffries, provides that “an individual may be held liable for on a theory of common-law negligence if he (1) served alcohol to a person (2) when he knew or should have known the person was intoxicated and (3) when he knew the person would be driving afterwards.”

Reach Out to an Attorney for Assistance

Social host liability is not automatic if a guest drives drunk and injures someone. Each of the three elements must be proven. Therefore, failure to prove just one can cause a case to be unsuccessful. That is why it is extremely important to contact an attorney if you are hit by a drunk driver. Several avenues may be explored to seek compensation.

At Wallace Pierce Law, we pride ourselves on leaving no stone unturned. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have been injured in an accident in Durham.

Call (919) 887-7892 or submit an online contact form today.

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