Will homeowner's insurance cover injury from a fight at a house party?
My stepson was invited to a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house. There were several individuals at the party, all of whom were underage and drinking. The homeowner's son organized the party and his parents were not there.
During the course of the evening, some words were exchanged between my stepson and another individual. After this exchange, my stepson and his friends decided to leave. My stepson was outside with some other individuals waiting for his friends so they could leave.
The other individual involved in the verbal exchange came around the side of the house and hit my stepson from a blind spot. This blow caused my stepson to lose consciousness and it fractured his jaw. This chain of events was witnessed by other individuals that have confirmed this story. He had surgery, etc.
Can the homeowner be held liable for this injury in any way? Or can only the assailant be held liable? Do we have any other recourse? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Will homeowner's insurance cover injury from a fight at a house party?":
Anonymous (Paducah, KY):
According to the State of Kentucky's Public Protection Cabinet Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, underage drinking cost the citizens of Kentucky about $700 million dollars each year in medical care, work loss, and pain and suffering.
Public Protection Cabinet Department of Alcohol Beverage Control
Under Kentucky Legislative Finding Section 413.241, commonly referred to as a "Dramshop Act," the legislators decided the following...
"...the consumption of intoxicating beverages, rather than the serving, furnishing, or sale of such beverages, is the proximate cause of any injury, including death and property damage, inflicted by an intoxicated person upon himself or another person."
This means bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and other commercial establishments can not be held liable for property damage, personal injury or death caused by a customer who was served or sold alcohol, even when the commercial establishment knew, or should have known the customer was already intoxicated.
Additionally, homeowners who serve alcohol to minors in the home, or who permit their home to be used as a place where minors under the age of 21 can have access to alcohol can not be held liable when the minor who consumes the alcohol causes property damage, personal injury, or death to others after having consumed alcohol.
Unlike other states with more restrictive dramshop acts, Kentucky remains as one of the few states to legislatively prohibit liability for sellers or providers of alcohol to intoxicated persons or minors.
However, despite Kentucky’s failure to establish legislation holding commercial establishments and homeowners liable for providing alcohol inappropriately, a victim of an intoxicated adult or minor person may still seek compensation from the provider of alcohol under the theory of negligence. (However, in these cases, the provider of alcohol may use as an affirmative defense Section 413.241)
Under the facts you present, your stepson did not provoke the assault. Verbal provocation is not a sufficient defense to physical assault. In other words, your stepson may have used any number of harsh and pointed criticisms of the person who assaulted him, yet those verbal provocations did not legally excuse the person for the assault.
As a result, that person is subject to arrest and civil liable for your stepson's injuries and resulting medical bills and related expenses. You can contact the police and file charges against the aggressor if you so choose.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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