Did you know that approximately 41 million children are estimated to go trick-or-treating this Halloween, with 118 million potential stops on the way? Halloween is serious business in the U.S.! And Halloween is the only time of year when it is completely acceptable to transform your home into a creepy haunted house using strobe lights, creepy fog machines, and life-size monster figures without the neighbors judging your creative spookiness.
While Halloween should be a fun day filled with tricks and treats and welcoming little witches and goblins at your door, it is also crucial to consider the safety of your decorations and displays. When you invite trick-or-treaters, or any guests, onto your property this Halloween, you are automatically legally responsible for their safety. There are some risks associated with welcoming anyone onto your property. Below we provide ways to keep your property “trick-free” and safe for all who dare to enter. Bwahahaha!
What is Premises Liability?
"Premises liability" is the liability that a landowner or occupier has for certain torts that occur on their land. Meaning that if a visitor is injured on someone's property due to some unsafe or defective condition, and the property owner is found to be at fault, then the property owner is liable.
Home Owner vs. Renter
If you own the home, you may be held responsible for the accident and the injury if you are at fault. It is essential to check with your insurance company and know your homeowner policy’s premise liability terms. If you rent the home, landlords can be liable for known defects in the property. However, renters are in control of the property and may be held liable in certain situations. Be sure to check your lease agreement prior to Halloween or ask your landlord for more clarification.
How to Prepare Your Home for Trick-or-Treaters
Keep the yard and walkways leading up to your home well-lit. With long costumes, masks, and other costume gear, trick-or-treaters often have impaired visibility. Make it easy for them to find your front door by turning on the outdoor lights and lighting up the walkway.
Look for any trip hazards on your property that you can fix or remove: electrical cords and hoses can be wrapped up or moved; holes in your yard are roped off or filled in; toys can be picked up and put away; in-ground decorations like tombstones can be moved farther away from walkways.
Wrap any safety hazards that can't be fixed in time for Halloween with bright caution tape and block off the area.
Skip the candles! Use battery-powered votive candles in your jack-o-lanterns rather than real candles to avoid a potential fire hazard.
Ensure all railings, porches, and physical structures of your home are secure and in good condition before visitors access those areas.
Be cautious if using fog machines or dry ice. Fog machines can make it hard for visitors to see, and dry ice can burn the skin when touched.
Leave pets inside the house. The strange sights and sounds of Halloween can become overwhelming for some animals, especially dogs, so they may feel threatened and react aggressively.
If you are not participating in trick-or-treating, turn off all outdoor lights, but keep all walkways clear. Some children may knock on your door even if the lights are turned off.
How to Prepare Your Trick-or-Treaters
Walk only on lit pathways rather than cutting through yards.
Wear a costume at a comfortable length, so no material drags on the ground.
Make sure a mask can be seen through well and remove anything obstructing vision when walking around.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes with good tread to prevent slipping and falling, especially when it is wet outside.
Slip and fall and numerous other accidents on Halloween are not something most people anticipate on such a fun night. It can be a situation scarier than most could imagine and can also be very overwhelming. At Williams DeLoatche, P.C., we know how to navigate premises liability cases and deal with insurance company claims. Contact us at 757-547-5555 to find out how we can help. We are available 24/7 for FREE consultations on personal injury matters and more. And unlike larger firms, we provide personalized attention to all of our clients. Both attorneys are involved in all facets of your case and are equally accessible to the client. We can provide high-quality legal services to meet your legal needs.
We look forward to providing you with personal attention and exceptional results!