Halloween has become one of the most celebrated holidays in the nation -- but it's also a homeowner's nightmare because premise liability laws can put the responsibility for an injured child or parent directly at your doorstep if something goes wrong during the annual Trick-or-Treat festivities.
If you're a homeowner, you don't have to be too scared to turn the porch light on and pass out treats to the little ghouls and goblins at your door -- but you do need to exercise a little caution in order to minimize your possible liability if an accident does happen. Use this guide:
1. Understand your responsibility under the law.
By turning on the porch light during the annual Beggar's Night, you're signaling your invitation to others to come knock on your door and ask for a treat. Under premise liability laws, that means you are expected to have taken some reasonable actions to see that the people who respond to your invitation are safe while on your property.
2. Have a clean, clearly marked pathway to your door.
If you're going to wait inside the house for the kids to knock on the door, spend a few minutes just before the annual event starts sweeping the walkway clear of leaves and other fall debris. That will help minimize the chances that anyone will fall or trip over an unseen obstacle.
Consider using luminaries on either side of the walkway, but make certain to use electric candles, battery operated lights or something similar -- not actual candles. You don't want anyone to accidentally catch a costume on fire! A clear path also discourages people from cutting across your yard -- where there might be hazards like a gopher hole hiding in the dark.
3. Consider passing out the candy at the end of your own walk.
If the weather is decent, you can further minimize your personal liability by putting a chair at the end of your walk and meeting the kids before they ever set foot on your property. That way you don't have to worry about any dangers. This is a particularly good plan if you have steep steps to your front door, a broken area in your cement path, or a missing guardrail that you don't have time to replace.
4. Make sure that you secure your pets away from the area.
Whether you wait outside or inside, put your pets in another room and lock the door. No matter how friendly your dog or cat may be, the rush of people, the strange costumes, the noise and the general excitement can be overwhelming for an animal -- and you don't want your dog or cat to attack someone out of panic or protectiveness.
Anyone who is injured on Halloween night while engaging in the customary Trick-or-Treat celebrations should consider talking to an attorney for more information.Share
10 October 2017
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