Lanier Coulter, Esq.
November 20, 2013
holidays are fast approaching, and with them come holiday
may already be in the midst of planning a community party of its
is commonly served at such events, leading to questions of the
potential liability for an association.
Although there is no way to ensure that an association
will not be sued over a situation involving the consumption or
over-consumption of alcohol at an association sponsored party,
an association can take steps to help minimize its exposure to
general rule in Georgia is that the provider of alcohol is not
liable for injuries suffered by the consumer, or third parties
who are injured by the consumer, unless the alcohol provider was
have found the host of a party to be negligent and, therefore,
liable for the acts of an intoxicated adult when the host
knowingly continued to serve alcohol to the intoxicated person
and injury resulted. Hosts
who knowingly allowed intoxicated guests to drive and cause
injury also have been held liable.
limit the association's exposure to a negligence claim, the
association should plan holiday parties carefully and consider
implementing procedures such as the following:
who serves the alcohol.
By designating owners to act as servers, it makes it
easier to monitor the consumption of the party-goers and to
cut off those who have too many, as well as to arrange for a
safe ride for them. Designated
servers can also be responsible for checking identification
to ensure that no minors are being served.
safe rides to and from the party.
An association can either encourage owners to walk to
the party, or arrange for a taxi or car service to assist
with rides to and from the party location.
addition to having designated servers, an association may
also appoint certain members or personnel who do not drink
to assist with those owners who may be intoxicated or may
need a ride.
the event but don't provide the alcohol.
An association can limit its liability if it does not
provide the alcohol, or if it hires a caterer to provide and
serve the alcohol.
all reasonable precautions to ensure that no minors are
being served alcohol.
is imperative for any association sponsored event that the
alcohol is not sold in any way where the Association receives
the proceeds or a portion thereof, including, but not limited
to, a cash bar or drink tickets.
Unless the association holds a liquor license, selling
alcohol is a violation of Georgia law.
If an association hosts parties where alcohol is served,
then it should review its insurance policy to ensure it has
proper coverage. Even
if the association is successful in defending a lawsuit arising
out of the serving of alcohol at an association-sponsored party,
the costs of defense can be astronomical.
Accordingly, if host liquor liability is not already included in
an association's general liability coverage, the association
should consider purchasing a policy or rider for the event.
Host liquor insurance covers the association's legal
defense and any judgments (up to the policy limits) for claims
resulting from injuries caused by a person who was served
alcohol by the association.
Taking appropriate steps to limit liability can greatly
help an association avoid any holiday mishaps.