Celebrate the New Year Without Causing Harm

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Making a commitment to celebrate the New Year without causing harm to yourself or others is one of the best ways to ring in 2022. Staying safe and having fun with family and friends are not mutually exclusive. Here are some tips to protect you and your guests to help you start 2022 off on the right foot.

Stick to sparklers and noisemakers to keep everyone safe at your new year celebration.

Avoid celebratory gunfire

Party hosts who want to avoid a dangerous situation rife with liability should never allow guns or fireworks at their celebration. Noisemakers and sparklers are harmless but shooting off guns or fireworks can lead to serious injuries and even death. Every year, the New Mexico State Police and municipal police departments across the state warn people of the risks of shooting guns into the air to ring in the new year.

What goes up must come back down again, and sometimes those errant bullets find their way into unsuspecting victims, causing injury or death. No shortage of cases exists for celebratory gunfire gone wrong. Aside from the risk of accidentally shooting someone, firing a gun into the air is illegal in New Mexico. If the police catch you doing it, you can be arrested and charged. The Albuquerque Police Department now uses a technology called ShotSpotter to help identify areas where gunfire happens.

Never drink and drive

Not everyone makes alcohol a part of their New Year’s Eve celebration. For the roughly 54 percent who include beer, champagne, wine, and other cocktails in their festivities, never drink and drive to keep yourself and other drivers safe. With taxis available in most major cities, and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, there is no good reason to get behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk.

Hosts have a legal obligation to ensure their guests do not drink and drive. Holiday parties can get hosts sued for personal injuries or wrongful death if one of their guests causes a drunken-driving accident. In New Mexico, an injured party can sue a social host for damages if they can prove the person provided the alcohol in a reckless manner.

Here is an example of how that might work. Let’s say Sarah is having a party for 10 of her closest friends. There is plenty of alcohol and Sarah makes sure glasses stay full, even after one of her guests becomes visibly intoxicated. She makes no attempt to stop this person from leaving the party and getting behind the wheel of their car. Her guest runs a red light and collides with another vehicle, causing serious injuries to the other driver. That driver can not only sue the guest for damages as part of a personal injury lawsuit but also Sarah as the social host.  

Nix overconsumption of alcohol

Drinking and driving is not the only risk associated with drinking too much alcohol on New Year’s Eve. Getting drunk affects your coordination and ability to think clearly. Can lead to slips and falls and other poor judgment that can get you or others hurt. While most states – including New Mexico – do not allow guests who injure themselves because they are intoxicated to sue their hosts, there is nothing stopping a third party from suing the host if that drunk guest does something to injure them. Here is an example. Beth continues to allow one of her guests to continue drinking, even though he is visibly drunk, including having difficulty with his coordination. That same guest, while leaving the party, grabs onto another guest and pulls them down onto the sidewalk, breaking their arm. The injured guest can sue Beth for damages under the social host law previously mentioned.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying some alcohol as part of your New Year’s celebration. Just be sure to put caps on how much you serve your guests to avoid becoming the subject of a personal injury lawsuit later.

Never point a sparkling wine or champagne bottle at yourself or anyone else while opening.

Safely toast 2022

There is one more caveat to mention if you plan to ring in the new year with a little bubbly. Be sure to hold champagne bottles away from your eyes (and other people) when opening them. Corks can be unpredictable once they are loosened. Champagne corks can fly up to 50 mph once dislodged, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Painful eye injuries and even eye loss can happen when an unsuspecting person is struck by a champagne cork. Corks move too fast for people to get out of their way once they come loose, so the safest way to open one is by pointing the tip of the bottle away from everyone, including yourself. Here are some other tips from the AAO:

  • Chill champagne (and any bottle with a cork) to 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening. Warm corks are more likely to pop.
  • Never shake the bottle before opening. This causes the speed of the cork as it exits the bottle to increase significantly.
  • Point bottles at a 45-degree angle before loosening the cork. Do this in addition to pointing it away from you and your guests.
  • Put a towel over the top of the bottle. The towel can be used to help the bottle opener grasp the cork to keep it from flying out.
  • Twist the bottle while holding the cork at a 45-degree angle. Taking this action helps break the seal, with the counterforce freeing the cork from the bottle.

Celebrate the new year safely

The team at Archibeque Law Firm wishes each of you a happy holiday and new year. Please celebrate safely by following these tips. If you or someone you know becomes injured because of another person’s negligence during the holidays, we are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free case consultation.

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