Halloween decorations are a great part of the fun of celebrating the holiday. Kids and adults alike delight in the houses that put in the effort to transform their yards into a spooky graveyard or haunted house. If not done with safety in mind, however, strobe lights, artificial fog and decorations stuck into the grass can act as obstacles that equal trip and fall hazards. When a property owner invites trick-or-treaters or other guests to their home they owe them a “duty of care.” If a person is injured on another’s property because the “duty of care” was breached, a property owner may face a premises liability lawsuit to cover damages.
What is Premises Liability Law?
Premises liability law is the body of personal injury law that says that the person or entity that owns the property is responsible for injuries incurred by persons present on the premises, where the property owner is found to be at fault.
If you are a renter, check your lease agreement before decorating your yard for Halloween. You will want to double check who will be held responsible for injuries on your rental property.
If you own a business, you owe a “duty of care” to your customers and could be liable for injuries that happen on the premises. Be sure to keep the property’s walkways clear of decorations and with enough light so people can see where they are walking.
Premises liability: safety tips decorate yard for Halloween
The best way to avoid a slip and fall accident on your premises during the Halloween season is to ensure that you are following common sense safety tips when setting up decorations:
• Ensure that there is still a safe and obvious walkway from the sidewalk/street to your front door. Do this by keeping the walkway well lit and free of tripping hazards such as decorations or electrical cords that encroach on the walkway.
• Electrical cords should only be extended to the length that is needed – roll the excess up and keep out of the way.
• Do a safety inspection of your yard after setting up the decorations. If there are any obvious safety hazards, fix them, place a clear warning sign or use caution tape to block off the unsafe area.
• If using dry ice or fog machines for effect, make sure that they are not pointed toward the walkway as fog can make it difficult to see and dry ice can burn skin if touched.
• Use battery-powered candles to light your jack-o-lanterns to avoid a potential fire or burn injury.
• Even if you do not plan to be home for trick-or-treating it is best to keep walkways clear in case any children approach your house.
• Prevent a dog bite injury. Always keep dogs inside on Halloween night; they can become nervous from all the extra noise and excitement and become unexpectedly aggressive.
Is the homeowner liable for my personal injury?
If you or your child is injured on another’s property this Halloween season, the owner may be liable for damages under premises liability law. Premises liability claims usually go through homeowner’s insurance.
A premises liability attorney can evaluate your situation and let you know if you have a claim. Generally, the following conditions must be present:
• The owner caused or created the unsafe condition that led to the injury
• The owner knew about a dangerous condition and failed to fix it
• The owner should have known about the dangerous condition
• The injury was caused directly by the unsafe condition
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!