Halloween Safety Tips For Homeowners: How To Avoid A Premises Liability Lawsuit
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! It’s fun to dress up in costumes with my children, I get to eat all the candy I want, and I love hearing the laughter of the children in our neighborhood as they walk around trick-or-treating. Who can resist smiling at a tiny Elsa when she proudly (often with some coaching by Mom or Dad) says “Thank you! Happy Halloween!” after you put candy in her little pumpkin bucket?
But I’m not only a dad, I’m also a personal injury attorney. Almost every year after Halloween, Barrett, Fasig & Brooks has clients who come in because they, or one of their children, have been injured on Halloween and need an attorney. These types of personal injury cases often fall under the legal principle of premise liability, and our Tallahassee personal injury attorneys are very experienced in premise liability law.
What is premise liability? Premise liability is the part of the law that says a homeowner has a legal responsibility to keep his property safe from hazards. If a homeowner does not warn about, or fails to correct, a hazardous condition on his property, he may be liable for any injuries that result.
If your property is unsafe- for example, if you leave a garden hose lying across the sidewalk up to your house- and someone gets injured, you could be held responsible for the injury. And, while your homeowner’s insurance should have liability coverage, it may or may not be enough to cover the actual damages of an injury, and you could be responsible for paying for part of the claim out of your own pocket.
In our over 30 years as a Tallahassee personal injury law firm, the experienced attorneys at Barrett, Fasig & Brooks have seen many premise liability cases. Here are few tips to try to help keep you from being our next one, because getting injured- or having someone injured on your property- is not how you want to end what should be a fun and relaxing holiday.
Walk around your property, carefully looking for potential hazards.
While it’s always important to keep your property safe, Halloween adds an extra degree of difficulty: It’s dark, children are running, and costumes with masks can make it difficult to see. Make sure all your walkways are well lit and cleared of any trip hazard. Try to think of what a young, excited child might miss seeing, and remove any potential dangers.
Secure all your animals.
We all love our pets, but Halloween can be scary for them. Costumes are confusing to them, and there is a lot of noise and movement. Even a usually well-behaved and mild-mannered animal can act poorly when their normal environment gets (from their perspective) strange and overwhelming. We’re sure Spot and Fido look hysterically funny in their pet costumes—but you still need to keep them secure on Halloween.
Having a grown-up party? You are responsible for your guests.
If you are a homeowner and one of your guests has too much to drink, you can be held liable for his actions. Alcohol reduces coordination and judgement, and makes a guest more likely to get injured at your home. If you have alcoholic beverages at an adult party at your home, you need to remember to make sure all your guest drink responsibly.
And, of course, never drink and drive, or allow one of your guests to drink and drive. In addition to criminal penalties, you could be held liable for any injuries your guest caused while drinking and driving.
Check your insurance coverage.
Now is a good time to call your agent and make sure your homeowner’s policy has adequate liability coverage. While we all hope we never have to use it, if we need it, we’re glad we have it.
We want for everyone to stay safe and have fun this Halloween! However, if you or a member of your family is injured on another person’s property on Halloween or any other day, the experienced premises liability attorneys at the Tallahassee law firm of Barrett, Fasig & Brooks can help determine your next step.
Halloween is on a Saturday this year, but that doesn’t matter if you’ve been injured. If you need an attorney, our attorneys are available day and night, weekday or weekend, even on a holiday. Call us anytime. We’re here to help