With fall rapidly approaching, the first signs of the holiday season are already appearing in stores: Halloween candy. Halloween decorations aren't far behind -- because the holiday has become one of the most celebrated in the nation.
However, opening your doors on Trick-or-Treat night also means opening your doors to a certain amount of personal liability. Because you are inviting people to come to your doorstep to ask for candy, it's important to make sure that you do what you can to make their path safe. Otherwise, you could be subject to a lawsuit.
This is what you need to keep in mind:
1. Keep the path to your door safe and clear.
Premises liability laws require you to keep the condition of the property reasonably safe for your visitors. In the case of Trick-or-Treat night, that means taking a good look at the path the children and their parents are likely to use to your door and making certain that it is free of any obvious problems:
- Sweep leaves off the walk shortly before the annual event begins.
- Consider lighting the path with either electric lights or LED candles inside luminaires or pumpkins.
- Do not light the path with candles or have actual candles anywhere someone might trail a costume.
- If your steps are steep or in poor repair, consider putting a chair at the bottom of them and greeting the visitors there instead of risking someone falling.
In general, you want to do what you can to minimize obvious problems and make sure that you don't create any new ones.
2. Be considerate in your choice of Halloween scare tactics.
Part of the fun of Halloween is the creepy decorations and the occasional scare. Spooky music and dry ice machines rolling fog off your front porch will probably thrill, delight, and slightly scare most younger attendees on Beggar's Night -- without really putting anyone in danger.
Hanging ghosts, graves in the front yard and otherwise ghoulish decorations are all fine -- but avoid scare tactics like having someone in a clown costume jump out from behind a bush while wielding an ax or a man in a hooded mask revving a chainsaw to give kids a real scare. If one of those kids (or a parent) runs into the street and gets hit by a car or gets so startled that he or she stumbles off the walk and breaks an arm or leg, you could be held responsible for his or her injury.
Avoiding a personal injury lawsuit is often all about taking reasonable precautions and avoiding negligent behavior that could clearly lead to an accident. Those injured due to an act of negligence should always consult an attorney to discuss the possibility of a case.Share