social host liability laws in Arizona

Whether you are a professional party planner or just a friendly neighbor who enjoys hosting backyard barbecues on the weekends, you have probably given some thought to the ways in which a fun party can go wrong. Try finishing the sentence “It is all fun and games until …,” and you will end up with a list of nightmare situations for a party host. Because of the concept of social liability, many states assign a hefty share of the blame to the party host when a guest causes an accident resulting in injury after getting drunk at the party. This means that the person injured in the accident can file a personal injury lawsuit not only against the drunk guest who injured him or her but also against the host of the party where the guest got drunk. Arizona’s social host liability laws are much less strict than in other states, making Arizona one of the least risky states for hosting a party.


A Social Host can be an Individual Person or a Place of Business

In the context of social host liability, the definition of social host is not limited to people who host parties in their homes.  Any of the following could be named as defendants in a social host liability lawsuit:


  • An individual who serves alcohol to guests in his or her home
  • An individual who hosts and serves alcohol at a social gathering in a public place, such as a barbecue in a public park
  • A company that hosts a holiday party for employees, whether at the workplace itself or at a restaurant or in a park
  • A restaurant or bar that sells alcohol to customers


In other words, by law, almost anyone who provides alcohol to another person is a social host, but not every social host is liable for every accident caused by a person who got drunk at a social gathering. In fact, in Arizona, the only social hosts who can be held liable are bars and restaurants with liquor licenses (sometimes called “dram shops” in legal terminology) and social hosts who served alcohol to an underage drinker who caused an accident.

When is a Social Host Liable in Arizona?

In order to have grounds for a social host liability lawsuit in Arizona, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the following conditions were met:


  • The person who caused the accident did so while drunk on alcohol he or she consumed at the host’s party or drinking establishment
  • The host knew or should have known that the guest or patron was drunk but continued to serve him or her alcohol
  • If the accident involved drunk driving, then the host knew that the drunk driver would be driving after drinking at the party or drinking establishment


Contact Eric Schmidt About Social Host Liability Cases

If you were injured in an alcohol-related accident, social host liability is only one of the ways in which you might be able to recover damages. Contact Eric Schmidt in Phoenix, Arizona, to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.