PITTSBURGH, PA—It's Halloween time – kids parade around in their costumes, and people decorate their yards with an assortment of ghosts, pumpkins and cobwebs. Unfortunately, a joyous night can quickly turn into a trip to the Emergency Room. Halloween is supposed to be fun, but what if a child trips over an outdoor decoration and falls down concrete stairs? What if a parent and child cross the street, but a driver doesn't see them?
In just a few weeks, millions of kids across the United States will take to the streets and walk door to door asking for candy. Meanwhile, adults throw parties and drivers attempt to be alert for pedestrians and drunk drivers.
"I've seen the real horror of what can happen on Halloween to people of any age," says Attorney Edgar Snyder, who has represented injury victims for over 40 years. "We all have a responsibility to keep trick-or-treaters safe and celebrate responsibly."
Homeowners, and generally those who rent single-family homes, have a responsibility to keep their properties safe for those who come onto their property – including trick-or-treaters.
The rule of thumb: If you have your outdoor lights on, you welcome trick-or-treaters onto your property. It's especially important to inspect your property and remove potential dangers prior to Halloween. Remove tripping hazards from your lawn, steps, driveways, etc. If you have Halloween decorations on your lawn, especially ones that stick out of the ground, they should be clearly visible. Turn on outdoor lights, and be sure your walkways are well-lit leading to your door. Dog owners should keep their pet confined and away from trick-or-treaters, as costumes and doorbells may startle the dogs and make them feel threatened.
Keeping trick-or-treaters safe not only allows them to enjoy their night and return home uninjured, but it also protects your financial security. Homeowners are responsible for keeping their property safe. If you rent, the landlord or management company is typically responsible for keeping the property safe. There are exceptions though, especially with single-family units. Refer to your lease agreement and read it carefully so you understand your responsibilities.
Unfortunately, property hazards are just one danger Pittsburgh-area residents face during Halloween. According to AAA, Halloween night is the deadliest night of the year for pedestrians. Safe Kids recommends that children under the age of 12 should trick-or-treat with a parent or adult guardian. Brightly-colored costumes and treat bags, and reflective strips can help make pedestrians more visible. Carry a flashlight as well.
Halloween isn't just for kids; many adults also celebrate. Adults must drink responsibly. Underage drinking is illegal, and so is furnishing alcohol to those under age 21. Pennsylvania's social host liability law states that if a person furnishes alcohol to a minor, and that minor is injured or hurts someone else, the host can be held liable for the costs associated with the accident – plus fines for each underage drinker.
"I've seen firsthand the devastation caused by drunk driving," says Attorney Snyder. "Think about how you would feel if you lost a parent, sibling or friend due to a bad choice. Have a designated driver, call a cab or take public transportation. Please don't drink and drive."
Edgar Snyder & Associates is a plaintiff's personal injury law firm representing people hurt in all types of accidents, including victims of drunk driving. Office locations include Pittsburgh, Altoona, Ebensburg, Erie and Johnstown, Pa. The law firm encourages everyone to sign the Safe & Sober pledge. An infographic on Halloween safety and Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips are available at www.edgarsnyder.com.