Halloween Accidents: Avoid Trip-or-Treating
It is almost time for spooky lights, creepy tombstones, fog machines and spider webs! Halloween is the one night a year when all the witches and goblins can freely roam the streets and scaring people is encouraged.
But the scariest part of Halloween could be the liability you face if someone gets hurt. Most people understand the risk of slip and fall accidents but dangling wires and decorations in the paths are not the only risk of injury on this spooky night.
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 is a legal concept that holds property and business owners liable for injuries that occur within their homes and businesses. Basically, 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.
Most personal injury cases are based on negligence, and premises liability cases are no exception. In order to win a premises liability case, the injured person must prove that the property owner was negligent with respect to ownership and/or maintenance of the property. In general, negligence means that the property owner failed to use reasonable care in connection with the property.
- 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.
- A Business?
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.
Decorating for Halloween
Some people go all out when it comes to Halloween decorations. Decorating for Halloween is exciting and fun to do as a family but decorations can cause accidents. Most people who live in a neighborhood take part in Halloween to some level. At the very least, trick-or-treaters bring foot traffic going to your house that you normally would not have. And keep in mind that some kids will come to the door whether you have left the porch light on or not. At a minimum, you should make sure all tripping hazards are removed or wrapped in reflective tape or otherwise highlighted.
Additionally, pumpkins can be knocked over, creating a fire or burn hazard with wax candles. Instead, consider using a battery-powered pumpkin light and place pumpkins and other props on sturdy tables instead of setting them on the ground. Make sure all decorations are fire resistant, keep flames away from decorations and structures, make sure your porch and pathway lights are working and sufficiently bright, keep your pets away from the kids and keep the candy bowl by the door.
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.
- Wrap any safety hazards that cannot be fixed in time for Halloween with caution tape to 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 pumpkin to avoid a potential fire hazard.
- Be cautious if using fog machines that make it hard for visitors to see.
- Leave dogs securely inside the house and away from the front door.
- Turn off all outdoor lights if you are not participating in trick-or-treating, but still keep all walkways clear.
- Obey posted speed limits and be extra cautious while driving.
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 is raining.
Safety Tips for Motorists
- Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully
- At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing
- Discourage new, inexperienced drivers from driving on Halloween
There is always a little danger to Halloween and that is what makes the holiday fun. What does not make it fun is actual danger, coming from our costumes themselves.
Hopefully you already have got your costume all picked out and you have considered safety in your selection. Be aware that some injuries are self-inflicted based on the costume you have chosen.
To help ensure adults and children have a safe holiday, follow these Halloween safety tips. Before Halloween arrives, be sure to choose a costume that will not cause safety hazards.
- All costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire-resistant
- If children are allowed out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes and bags, or give them glow sticks
- When buying Halloween makeup, make sure it is nontoxic and always test it in a small area first
- Remove all makeup before children go to bed to prevent skin and eye irritation
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 do not 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.
- 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.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Contact an attorney before you speak with the insurance company or sign any documents.
Contact an Experienced Injury Lawyer
People who decorate for Halloween are looking to beat the competition though bigger, better scares and make money in the process. In most cases, decorations are harmless fun, until someone is injured due to negligence. Since you do enter a property voluntarily and willingly, you legally assume the risk.
Even so, if you are injured on someone’s property, you may have a case. The owners of the house must provide a safe space with care and consideration, which means you should seek compensation if you are injured due to negligence. The premises liability law always holds property owners responsible for the proper maintenance of their locations and for the safety of their guests.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury at a haunted house and have questions about seeking legal action, call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.