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Maryland Court Rules Adults Providing Alcohol to Minors Now Liable for Injuries Caused

Assortment of beer glasses on a wooden tableThe nation seems to be moving in a more progressive direction. At a time when over 85% more solar panels have been installed in homes this year compared to last year, citizens are looking to make their nation a better place, which is precisely what a surprising new law hopes to do.

Adults who “willfully and knowingly” provide alcohol to minors may now be held liable for injuries or deaths caused by underage individuals as a result of their alcohol consumption.

Although the law already prohibits adults from providing alcohol to underage individuals, some parents nonetheless let teens host drinking parties at their homes.Perhaps it’s an attempt to seem younger or more appealing to their children, or maybe they think that it’s better to let their kids drink at home if they’re going to drink anyway.

Whatever the excuse, a landmark ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals has stated that in addition to already existing penalties such as fines and the possibility of jail, adults now also run the risk of being sued if an underage drinker under their care sustains an injury or injures someone else.

In the past, the court has followed the rule that people, whether drunk or sober, hold sole responsibility for their actions. However, recent research on teenage brain function has prompted them to rule that adults may not defend themselves by claiming the underage drinker should bear responsibility because they chose to drink,

“Underage persons are not solely responsible for drinking alcohol on an adult’s property because they are not competent to handle the effects of this potentially dangerous substance,” Judge Sally D. Adkins wrote for the court.

The ruling reversed a lower-court decision in Kiriakos v. Phillips, wherein Mrs. Kiriakos was walking her dog on the sidewalk when she was struck by an SUV driven by Shetmiyah Robinson, 18. Robinson had been drinking at the home of a co-worker who was of age. Kiriakos sued the co-worker, but ultimately lost when the court ruled that “Maryland does not recognize social host liability.”

However, with the recent ruling, an adult who provides alcohol to underage individuals “increases the risk of harm to others,” the court said. “The adult may then be subject to a duty to a third person depending on the circumstances,” it added.

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