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Can your employer be responsible for an office party accident?

If you overindulge at this year's holiday party and wind up injured in an accident, is your employer who threw the party liable for your injuries?

It turns out that here in New Jersey they might. The state's social host liability laws hold hosts liable for their guests' injuries resulting from "negligent operation of a vehicle by a guest" if that guest is visibly intoxicated.

When work and play collide in a quasi-office setting, the area is a bit murky. Was the crew quaffing a few drinks around the water cooler on the last work day before the holidays, or was this a more organized, catered affair at a venue? That could be pertinent to any litigation, as an impromptu celebration may be perceived not to have management's blessing.

The key factors here will be did those in charge of throwing the party, i.e., the employers, fail to act lawfully or reasonably, which then caused the employee to get hurt? Could they have taken further steps to protect this person from harm, such as stopping the flow of booze sooner, arranging for Uber or a taxi to take him or her home? All of these points can, and should, be addressed by the plaintiff's attorney once litigation is initiated.

This holiday season, as always, it's important to be responsible for your own alcohol consumption and remember to eat before and while drinking. But if you get hurt and believe that negligence on the part of your employer contributed to your injuries in a collision, you may wish to seek a legal remedy.

Source: Findlaw, "Injured at an Office Party: What Are Your Legal Options?," accessed Nov. 04, 2016

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