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“My Teenager was Injured at an Unsupervised Party. Who is Responsible?”
Hosting teenage parties at your home or cottage comes with its own sets of challenges. Generally speaking, the law does not require a person witnessing a risky adult behaviour at a party to intervene. The adult-teen relationship, however, is a unique one where a duty to protect has been found. This is particularly so where the risk arises on your property.
In Ontario, the Occupier’s Liability Act and the common law will hold homeowners and hosts liable for injuries that teenagers sustain as a result of foreseeable risks created on your property and under your control. In particular, courts have held homeowners and hosts liable for injuries arising from underage drinking as well as drug use.
If you are hosting a party, be mindful of the special duty of supervision that you owe to your teenage guests. Simple steps that you can take to ensure a fun and safe party for all include:
• Ensure that any party thrown on your property is supervised by a responsible adult.
• If you are present, stay sober so that you can properly monitor your guests.
• Serve alcoholic beverages yourself or designate a sober server.
• Provide non-alcoholic beverage options and snacks.
• Slow and stop the service of alcohol well before the party is over.
• Stop impaired teens from leaving your party by asking for keys, offering to call a cab, offering a ride home, or offering to have them stay over until they sober up.
• Do not hesitate to call the police if an impaired teen insists on leaving without a sober and responsible adult.
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