Foster & Mazzie LLC

Avoiding premises liability issues on Halloween

If you're welcoming trick-or-treaters or other guests to your home this Halloween, it's essential to make sure that your property is as safe as you can reasonably make it. You don't want anyone to be injured, nor do you want the potential litigation that could follow.

Remember that under the law, if your porch light is on, trick-or-treaters are considered to be invited visitors and not trespassers. Therefore, your responsibility to have a property free of hazards is higher.

Following are some important tips for keeping your property free of hazards for Halloween visitors:

Make sure your walkway and/or driveway is well lit

Motion sensors or other types of lights are a good idea to minimize the chances of someone tripping. Don't use candles to light your walkway. That presents an even more serious hazard than having no lights.

That leads us to the subject of jack-o'-lanterns. If you have them on your porch (or anywhere in your home), put LED lights in them rather than candles to avoid creating a fire hazard.

Remove tripping hazards from the lawn

Make sure that any Halloween decorations in your yard are visible and can't be stumbled over. Pick up random toys, garden tools and other debris from your lawn before Halloween night and monitor it throughout the evening for debris left by trick-or-treaters. If there's a hole or other hazard you can't fix, rope it off with a sign.

Keep your dogs away from the door

Even friendly dogs can become overly excited by all the visitors wearing strange costumes. Minimize the chances that your dog will bite a trick-or-treater or escape out the door by putting them in a separate room with plenty of toys to keep them occupied.

Don't overdo the pranks and special effects

Fog machines and strobe lights can make your home stand out. However, they can cause seizures and asthma attacks in some people. Also be careful about doing anything like opening the door dressed as Freddie Krueger. If kids run away screaming, they could trip and fall.

Your homeowners' insurance can likely cover relatively minor injuries that occur on your property. However, if something more serious happens and a neighbor decides to file a lawsuit, it's essential to make sure that you have legal guidance from an experienced premises liability defense attorney to protect your rights and your assets.

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Insurance carriers have looked to Foster & Mazzie LLC for their defense needs since 1989. Contact us online or call 973-200-8619. Our lawyers are available in our Totowa office weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays) and nights, weekends and at our 10 Rockefeller Plaza office by appointment.

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