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New Years Eve party hosts could face lawsuits

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Did you know your guests can sue you if they're caught drinking and driving after leaving your New Years Eve party?

Professional party planner Erin Love has helped dozens throw parties, both small and elaborate.

It's all part of her decade old self owned business in Monroe called "Panache". The perks of having your own party is that you can personalize it a little bit better," said Love.

But along with the festivities, could come liabilities that could land you in a nasty lawsuit. Through the years Love has warned party hosts, they face the same liabilities as bars when it comes to serving alcohol to guests.

If a guest leaves a house party and gets into a drunk driving accident -- the driver or their family can file a lawsuit against the party host. In many instances, courts have found the host at least partially responsible.

It's called "social host liability" and the law includes guests of all ages. It exists in 33 states, including Louisiana.

That's why Love advises party throwers to be cautious. "One thing I always recommend to my clients is to serve a limited amount, stop serving at a certain point in the night."

Love advises skipping the self service bar in exchange for a bartender, or even just someone who will act as one to limit drinks and check id's. She also says party hosts should make sure guests have designated drivers or put somebody in charge of calling cabs. "The cops are cracking down and everybody knows that so hopefully everybody stays safe and that won't be a problem," said Love, adding that following the safety tips won't just keep you from getting sued, it also keeps your guests safe and alive to enjoy another day.

Another way to avoid problems is to get an umbrella home insurance policy.  It offers homeowners more protection if they are sued.

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