Be Scary Safe: Halloween Slip and Fall Dangers
Keep Your Property Trick-Free and Your Guests Safe
Halloween is the one night of the year where you can freely transform your home into a haunted house. Strobe lights, creepy tombstones, and artificial fog will contribute to the spookiness of the night.
With all the little witches and goblins coming to your door, the trick may be on you if someone gets hurts by your decorations. If you invite trick-or-treaters, or any guests, onto your property this Halloween, you are legally responsible for their safety.
What is Premises Liability?
"Premises liability" means that if a visitor is injured on someone's property, and the property owner is found to be at fault, then the property owner is liable.
Own the Home?
If you own the home, then you may be held responsible for the accident and the injury if you are found to be at fault.
Rent the Home?
If you rent the home, normally the landlord is responsible for injuries on the property. However, be sure to check your lease agreement prior to Halloween or ask your landlord for more clarification.
Planning on hosting a trick-or-treat event for children at your business? If you fail to keep the property free from obstacles or provide adequate signs and warnings, you may be held liable for injuries.
How to Prepare Your Home for Trick-or-Treaters
- Keep the yard and walkways leading up to your home well-lit.
- Look for any trip hazards on your property that you can fix or remove: electrical cords and hoses can be wrapped up or moved; 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 caution tape and block off the area.
- Move pumpkins and any potted plants to places where they will not be touched or kicked by visitors.
- Use battery-powered votive candles in your jack-o-lanterns, rather than real candles, to avoid a potential fire hazard.
- Be cautious if using fog machines or dry ice. Fog machines can make it hard for visitors to see, and dry ice can burn skin if it's touched.
- Leave dogs inside the house. The unknown sights and sounds of Halloween can become overwhelming for dogs, so they may feel threatened and react aggressively.
- Turn off all outdoor lights if you're not participating in trick-or-treating, but still 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 front or backyards.
- Wear a costume of a comfortable length, so no material drags on the ground.
- Remove masks or anything obstructing vision when walking around.
- Make sure to wear comfortable shoes with solid tread to prevent slipping and falling, especially if it's raining.
What Do You Do If an Accident Happens?
On your property:
- One of the following three conditions must occur for the homeowner to be liable:
- The owner must have caused or created the dangerous conditions.
- The owner must have known about the dangerous condition, but failed to fix it.
- The owner should have known about the dangerous conditions.
- If one of these conditions is true, then the liability claim will normally go through your homeowner's insurance.
- If you don't have enough liability to cover the claim, you may be held financially responsible for any medical expenses related to the injury.
On someone else's property:
- Get medical attention as soon as possible.
- Document the scene and keep all evidence. Take photos or notes of the exact place where the fall happened. Try to be as precise as possible with any conditions that contributed to your fall, such as lights or any Halloween decorations.
Report the accident to a landlord or property manager, if the fall occurred on a rental property. Get a copy of their filed report prior to leaving the scene, if possible.
- Limit talking to the property owner as much as possible. Emotions and adrenaline run high after an accident, so simply explain that the fall occurred but avoid any emotional confrontation.
- Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Contact an attorney before you speak with the insurance company or sign any documents.
Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents aren't the only safety concerns on Halloween. You're never expecting anyone to become injured on a fun night like Halloween, or on any other day. It's a situation scarier than any haunted house and can be very overwhelming. At Edgar Snyder & Associates, we know how to navigate premises liability cases. Contact us for free to find out how we can help.