Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Social Host Liability in Washington

Posted Saturday, October 28, 2017 by Chris Thayer

The holidays are right around the corner, which means more parties, social gatherings, and opportunities to overindulge on food and drink.

Some overindulgences can be legally problematic. For example, Washington law makes it illegal for social hosts to provide minors with alcohol. Social hosts may also be held civilly liable if the minor is injured because of the alcohol consumption. Personal injury risks associated with underage drinking include automobile accidents, sexual assault and acute intoxication. Teens who have been drinking are also more likely to fall and injure themselves or get into fights that result in injuries.

In February 2017, four adults were arrested in conjunction with a Stanwood party where more than 150 minors were drinking. Snohomish County deputies showed up after a woman reported her 13-year-old niece was drinking at the party with other minors. One boy was reportedly passed out inside the home. An ambulance also responded to the scene. In addition to criminal liability, the social hosts could be sued for any injuries stemming from the underage drinking.

Who is a “Social Host” Under State Law?

According to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, the social host liability law “create[s] responsibilities on the part of ‘social’ hosts, such as homeowners, to persons affected by drinking on property that the host owns, leases, or otherwise controls.” Specifically, state law makes it illegal to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to minors or to allow minors to consume liquor on premises under their control.

A social host is not a commercial establishment, like a bar or restaurant, which must comply with a separate law creating a “duty of care” to people affected when patrons become intoxicated, leave the premises, and injure third parties.

Municipalities may also pass local social host ordinances that allow property owners to be cited without proof that they provided for or allowed underage drinking.

Tips for Parents

The Liquor and Cannabis Board advises parents not to allow underage drinking in their homes. Aside from complying with state law themselves, the board also advises parents to:

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if your underage child was provided with alcohol at a house party or other social gathering covered under the social host liability law. Our experienced attorneys will help you recover compensation for any injuries sustained by your child.