Super Bowl Sunday will be one of the biggest days of the year for house parties, and one of the worst days for drunk driving.
So if you're planning a party, make sure your game plan includes a strategy to keep yourself out of court. As lawyers will tell you- people can sue you over anything.
NW Insurance Council's Karl Newman wants party hosts to be aware of social host liability. It's an especially big deal if you have under aged guests with alcohol, but that's not the only concern.
"When you host a party at your home, there is some liability where you're responsible," Newman said. "Things like a slippery walk or steps could be an issue, or pets that cause an injury."
So as you make your list, and scour the cook books for party recipes and ideas, take a page out of the safety play book to help avoid getting sacked by a lawsuit or big insurance claim. Offensive rule number one: check out your turf. Look around for broken steps, weak decks, anything that might land one of your guests on the injured reserve list.
Play number two: Bulk up your pantry. Have plenty of food to pass around to offset the alcohol. Remember, there's no state law to cover who's responsible if a guest gets drunk at your party and hurts someone. And homeowners do get sued.
So play number three: hand off plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, so your guests can pace themselves. And call "time out" on the booze at the start of 4th quarter to help prevent your guests from getting flagged on the way home.
And to strengthen your party defense, be prepared to help guests get a ride home, or have them spend the night, if they've had too much to drink. And as the host, try to minimize your own alcohol consumption so you can keep a sharp eye on the party and quickly spot guests who may need special attention.
"It's a big party, it's a great time to enjoy your guests and enjoy the game, just take reasonable percautions to make sure you and your guests are as safe as possible," said Newman, who acknowledges that a big party event like the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to remind you to review your policies and consider how much liability coverage you have.
"If you have assets, if you have some money in the bank, if you've purchased a home- and you have minimum liability limits- you are probably putting yourself at a risk that you can easily take care of for just a few dollars more per month. We don't want people to buy more insurance than they need, that doesn't help them. But we also don't want them to be under-insured," Newman explained.
As for how often guests go after homeowner, Newman says it's actually fairly frequent.
"Here's an interesting scenario that a lot of folks don't think about", said Newman. "Let's say that someone's injured at my house and we're good friends and they say, 'Oh, don't worry about it. I'm just going to file that with my health insurance.' The health insurance company is going to come back and ask my homeowners insurance to take care of that if I'm proven to be negligent. So even if my friend doesn't want to make an issue of it, his health insurance company, in their contract, will come back to the homeowners insurance and say 'Hey, was there negligence here?' "