Ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night aren’t the only scary things on Halloween. Homeowners can find themselves facing a lawsuit if a trick or treater gets injured on their property.
Halloween is a unique evening because houses may be visited by dozens and dozens of visitors—most of them young. It’s an exciting time for children, and they may not be as careful as they might otherwise. Add in the additional fact that most trick or treaters arrive after darkness has fallen, and you have a recipe for potential injury.
“There are added dangers around Halloween,” says Jim Gustin, senior property specialist, risk control at Travelers Insurance. Trip and fall is one big risk for homeowners on Halloween, but it is far from the only one. That candlelit pumpkin or those Halloween lights can cause a fire, the cornstalk scarecrow may also prove to be combustible, and your front porch steps may be the site of a tumble with injury.
So what are some steps you can take to protect yourself from potential liability?
You in Court
Scary things hide in the dark, so you can protect yourself and your visitors by ensuring your front yard and the path to your door is well lit. You may need to mark an uneven area with a sign or marker. Any decorations that might prove to be potential tripping hazards should be removed. Look at your walkway from the street ahead of Halloween with traffic flow in mind. Is there anything there that could prove dangerous? If so, better to address now than on Halloween night.
Everyone knows the danger of dry Christmas trees. But using candles for decoration on Halloween can be just as dangerous. Instead of using actual flaming candles, utilize the battery operated versions. Inside your pumpkin, no one will know the difference, but the extra margin of safety makes it all worthwhile. Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents, the trade association, recommends one of the varieties of Jack-O-Lantern lights on the market.
Costumes, crepe paper, dried leaves—all can be combustible.
But even electric light decorations can be dangerous. Ensuring that all outdoor lights and decorations are plugged into GFCI (Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters) helps reduce the risk of electrical shock.
Remove or move any of your lawn furniture or other obstacles. Keep your bushes and trees well-trimmed. Children won’t always stay on sidewalks and paved walkways.
Avoid Other Halloween Dangers
Children will be everywhere on Halloween. So don’t drink and drive, and when you do drive, drive more slowly than usual so you can see any children running or wearing dark clothes well ahead of time.
Costumes are fun, but they can be hazardous, too. Every costume should be made from flame-resistant materials. Ensure that costumes aren’t so long that they prove a tripping hazard in and of themselves. Apply reflective material to allow vehicles to see the costume from a distance. And make sure every trick-or-treater has a flashlight.
Your pet may normally be friendly and good with people. But the volume of Halloween guests and the fact that their faces are obscured with many costumes may mean your pet views them as a threat. So keep your pets inside—you’re not only protecting your guests, but potentially your pet too.
Halloween Lighting Can Provide a Bonus Against Vandals:
Halloween home claims for theft, vandalism and other crimes spike 17% higher than any other day of the year. And there’s an even greater increase among auto insurance claims, too for vandalism. Lighting your home can discourage those who would trick instead of treat—especially if you use motion lighting. Motion lighting isn’t only a great deterrent against burglars, but can startle a would-be vandal before they have time to cause damage to your home.
Have you or a loved one been injured on Halloween?
If you or a loved one has been injured or worse on Halloween, Thomas & Pearl offer you a free case consultation, and upon taking your case will work on a contingency basis.
In an initial interview you’ll have the opportunity to ask all the questions you want, and learn more about your case. You’ll pay no money upfront—only if Thomas & Pearl wins your case and gets you the compensation you deserve.
You can receive compensation for injuries sustained and for pain and suffering. Before you speak with an insurance company, the attorneys at Thomas and Pearl want to speak to you.
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