We all know that teen driver car accidents are far more common than collisions caused by older drivers. Add alcohol to the equation and that worry increases exponentially, especially for parents. Underage drinking parties are all-too common these days, however, and the issue of culpability has become a complex point of contention in numerous teen drinking and driving lawsuits around the country.
Massachusetts has addressed at least part of the underage drinking and driving equation, with a new social host liability law. In early 2012, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that if teens host underage drinking parties but do not provide the alcohol consumed at the party, that they cannot be held responsible by a civil court if an inebriated guest is injured.
The case that instigated the ruling involved a 16-year old girl who was seriously injured in a driving under the influence car accident in 2007, and Boston, Springfield, Worcester-area personal injury attorney Mark E. Salomone has followed it closely. The girl's boyfriend, who was the driver of the car in which she was a passenger, had consumed alcohol at a party that had been hosted by a 19-year old girl. The host, whose father was not home during the gathering, did not provide any of the alcohol that the driver had consumed; he had brought his own 30-pack of beer and a bottle of rum to the event.
The injured girl's parents sued the 19-year old host but the subsequent ruling states that teenagers who host underage drinking parties but do not supply alcohol cannot be held civilly liable if one of their guests gets hurt. The court said a social host is only liable only when he or she provides alcohol or controls the supply of alcohol. It also denied a request to broaden the law by extending a “duty of care” to underage party hosts who don't supply alcohol but provide a location in which teens are allowed to drink.
No doubt, more legal rulings will be coming down the legislative pipeline as underage drinking parties become the grounds for more teenage car accident lawsuits. Teen social host liability, teen car accident injuries and teen drinking car crash fatalities are all in the news more and more these days, so it is up to every parent to educate their kids about the numerous dangers of underage drinking.
If your child was injured in a teen DUI car accident or has been accused of liability as a teen social host of an underage drinking party car crash, you need the aggressive advocacy of Massachusetts personal injury attorney, Mark E. Salomone. For a free and confidential consultation, call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 or contact us online today. We are ready to listen to you and discuss your legal options.
The Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone
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Boston, MA 02109