Liability of Party Hosts

What happens if you host a party and one of your guests gets impaired, drives away and is involved in a car crash where an innocent person is catastrophically injured? The answer is that you might get sued.

In 2006 the Supreme Court of Canada decided a case called Childs. In that case, a couple hosted a BYOB party on New Year’s Eve. One of their guests drank 12 beers and then drove home. On the way home he smashed into another car. A teenage girl in that car suffered a severed spine and was paralyzed from the waist down.

In the Childs case, the Supreme Court found that the party hosts were not liable. They did not see their guest drink all 12 beers and did not know that he was intoxicated. Because the party was BYOB, the only alcohol that the hosts served was a glass of champagne. The outcome may well have been different if the hosts knew that their guest was intoxicated and played a more active role in getting their guest intoxicated.

Impaired driving is reckless and dangerous. People who drink obviously should take responsibility for their own actions. As hosts, it is important to ensure that our guests take that responsibility seriously.

About the Authors

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Troy Lehman joined Oatley Vigmond in 2006 and became a partner in 2010. As a personal injury lawyer, his greatest satisfaction comes from helping people through to the other side of a difficult time in their lives. “We’re here to help and relieve stress,” Troy says. “When I walk into a first meeting with a client, people are often scared and anxious. And for me, the best thing that can happen at the end of the meeting is that they say, ‘I feel so much better.’

To learn more about Troy, please click here.