Maryland’s Highest Court Recognizes Social Host Liability for Alcohol

Thinking about hosting an underage drinking party? Think again if you are in Maryland. In a pair of landmark rulings this summer, the Maryland Court of Appeals held homeowners and renters civilly liable for the damage done by minors who are served alcohol, and later cause motor vehicle collisions with personal injury.

Social Host Liability

The new doctrine – called Social Host Liability – had not been previously recognized in Maryland motor vehicle accident cases. Virginia and the District of Columbia may follow this sound reasoning. The case is Kiriakos v. Phillips, which was decided on July 5, 2016. The opinion was authored by Judge Adkins. A companion case, Dankos v. Stapf, applied the same principles when the injury victim was the minor himself and was killed while a passenger in the bed of a pickup truck.

The Court of Appeals based its relief on Maryland Code CR § 10-117(b) which states the following:

“An adult may not knowingly and willfully allow an individual under the age of 21 years actually to possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at a residence, or within the curtilage of a residence that the adult owns or leases and
in which the adult resides.”

Washington DC personal injury attorneyThe Court held that adults are responsible for any underage drinking that occurs on their property. An adult who violates that statute has a duty of care towards persons injured as a result of such drinking, including the underage persons themselves. If you or a loved one were injured due to someone who was drinking underage, you may be eligible to pursue compensation with the help of a DC injury lawyer.

What This Decisions Means for Local Residents

The Kiriakos decision is a huge step forward for highway safety in Maryland. It recognizes the danger when a minor consumes alcohol and then operates a motor vehicle, decides to be a passenger, or makes other poor choices while intoxicated. At Zukerberg & Halperin, PLLC we have a tremendous track record of finding success for our clients.

If you have any questions about this ruling, or would like to speak with our Washington DC personal injury lawyers about an accident or a serious injury, please contact us today.