Halloween brings up premises liability issues

Halloween always brings excitement with it for kids or adults alike. Costumes, parties, trick-or-treating – it’s another great excuse to spend time together and get out into the neighborhood. But the nature of roaming busy streets and entering strangers’ yards isn’t exactly safe, but there are plenty of precautions your trick-or-treaters, drivers and homeowners can take to make sure the holiday is not only fun, but extra safe.

Costumes:

  • Check the fit of costumes – not too long or billowy – so they don’t provide a tripping hazard
  • Any helmets, masks or head coverings should leave large openings for eyes so kids can see easily
  • Try to buy or make costumes which are non-flammable so any jack-o-lanterns or candles can’t cause serious burns when they make contact with costumes

Pedestrian safety:

  • Use reflective tape on shoes and other visible areas on costumes to ensure other people and drivers can see your little one even in the dark
  • Carrying a flashlight is a great way to not only see your path along the road and in yards, but to also be another way to make sure cars and other pedestrians can see your child coming and going
  • Use sidewalks and cross at corners only – if a sidewalk isn’t available, walk as far over on the road as possible, and walk facing traffic
  • Do not dart out between cars or in the middle of a block
  • Make eye contact with drivers as you intend to cross the street to make sure they’re watching the road

Drivers out on Halloween

  • Be sure to drive slowly in residential areas
  • Be extra careful when entering or backing out of driveways and alleys
  • Ensure your lights are on and working, and use your blinkers
  • Set your GPS before you leave and don’t use your phone or text – keep as many distractions as you can out of the way so you don’t take your eyes off the road

Homeowners: premises concerns

It may be fun to host lots of trick-or-treaters this Halloween, but there is risk for the injury of someone on your property. Because you’re inviting people to trick-or-treat on your property – whether you know them or not – you are liable for injuries. If the injured party is hurt on your property due to negligence on your part, they are entitled to seek compensation and file a claim against you.

To help you avoid any injuries on your property, be sure to check:

  • The condition of your walkway and steps – ensure they aren’t crumbling or uneven enough to cause a trip and fall
  • Elaborate decorations on your lawn and porch are fun, but be sure to provide a clear path for people to walk to and from your house and your door
  • Good lighting is important – it shows trick-or-treaters your house welcomes them, and it helps people navigate your yard without running into potential hazards
  • Use battery-operated fake candles to light pumpkins and other decoration rather than traditional candles to avoid any fire hazards
  • Keep dogs kenneled or behind a secure fence to prevent any bites or scares

Follow these safety tips to ensure you and your kids have a fun Halloween and are free from many premises liability issues that could arise. Happy Halloween!