Halloween is always an exciting time of the year - particularly for the children and young adults who get to go trick-or-treating. But what happens if someone is injured on another person's property in the pursuit of candy? Knowing the answer could help you pursue the appropriate legal avenues if someone is injured on your property, or you're caring for a trick-or-treater who gets hurt.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we'll help you find the best path forward in your personal injury dispute. Contact us online or via phone at (757) 267-4949 to schedule a consultation or learn more.
Can a Homeowner Be Held Liable for Trick-or-Treat Injuries?
To put it simply: Yes.
The same standards required to file a personal injury claim successfully - namely, proving that the person responsible for the injury or the owner of the property where the injury occurred caused the injury through negligence - still apply. However, homeowners can indeed be held liable for trick-or-treating injuries.
If a plaintiff can prove that a home or property owner acted negligently and, in doing so, harmed trick-or-treaters, the home or property owner could face a number of penalties, including paying damages to the injured party.
What Can I Do to Avoid Injuries on Halloween?
Firstly, if you don't want visitors at all, make sure your porch light is off. If your porch light is on, you'll be considered liable for what happens to trick-or-treaters on your property, since a lit porch is seen as an invitation for trick-or-treaters to visit your property. If your light is off, you won't have the same legal responsibility to your visitors, which could help you avoid charges if someone is injured on your property.
In addition to minding the state of your porch light, you'll also want to take the following steps:
Mind Tripping Hazards or Slippery Surfaces
This is especially important if you live in an area where ice or snow starts showing up around Halloween. If you're expecting trick-or-treaters, you should warn them of any potential tripping hazards before entering your property to help avoid a slip-and-fall case.
Make sure the path to your door is well-lit. Consider using a snow or ice-melting mixture on the path if snow or ice is present to help your visitors stay on their feet. You may also want to post a well-lit sign at the entrance to your property that clearly warns visitors of any tripping hazards you are aware of.
Make Sure Your Treats Won't Break Teeth
Many people love baking treats and candies for trick-or-treaters instead of furnishing them with store-bought goods, but be careful if you want to go this route. Put some time into ensuring that your homemade treats aren't too hard and won't run the risk of chipping a tooth.
Additionally, you should make trick-or-treaters - and their caretakers - aware of what ingredients any treats you give out contain. The last thing you want is a trick-or-treater with an allergy to an ingredient you used consuming your treat.
Be Careful with Decorations
Many homeowners love to coat their yards with scary props on Halloween, and if it's a favorite pastime of yours, you don't need to stop - however, you should take the proper safety measures.
Consider warning visitors about potential scares on a sign at the entrance to your yard (perhaps the same one warning of any tripping hazards). Keep in mind that you can't predict how people will react to scary props - you don't want an exceptionally frightened trick-or-treater to fall or faint out of fear and hit their heads on the ground. As with many things in life, it's always better to err on the side of caution if you're not sure how scary you should make your yard on Halloween.
The fear of being held liable for trick-or-treating injuries on Halloween shouldn't stop you from having fun with your yard and the decorations in it, but it should encourage you to take the proper safety measures to ensure the security of your guests. Happy Halloween!
At the Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, our team will help you navigate your personal injury dispute. To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about how we can help with your case, give us a call at (757) 267-4949 or contact us online.