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The legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. It is against the law for you to serve alcohol to underage guests or to allow them to consume alcohol in your home. You could also be civilly liable for their acts if they injure or kill someone else after drinking at your home. Parents who gave permission for their underage child to drink alcohol could also be civilly liable.
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Yes. Under the principle of social host liability, you can be held financially responsible if your guest harms or kills another person after having consumed alcohol at your home.
If your guest was under age 21 and you allowed him to consume alcohol, you committed a crime. Violation of a criminal statute is powerful evidence that you were negligent. There is no good reason to allow anyone under 21 to drink alcohol. If your guest was an adult who was visibly impaired, you were negligent if you permitted him to drink alcohol at your home. There is no good reason to serve any impaired guest more alcohol.
Even if you do not keep alcohol in your home and your child does not drink, your child may be charged criminally for allowing minors to drink alcohol at your home. If you do not give permission to your child to allow drinking at your home, you might not be civilly liable. Even if you claim that you did not know your child’s guests would be drinking, it may still be up to a jury to decide whether you are civilly liable.
It might, but your coverage will most likely not be enough to pay the judgment. If you are also charged criminally, then it is possible that your policy will not cover the civil judgment.
Under the principle of joint and several liability, if two or more parties are civilly liable, then any one of them may be required to pay the entire amount of the judgment. If an underage guest who drinks alcohol at your home injures or kills someone, you and that guest could be sued and found liable. You could be forced to pay the entire judgment if the underage guest cannot afford to pay. Recent judgments in these cases have been over $1,000,000.
A drunk driver who is ordered to pay a civil judgment cannot avoid paying by declaring bankruptcy. It is possible a social host can avoid paying a civil judgment if he is bankrupt, but there is a growing trend to prevent this from happening.