Happy Halloween. Protect Yourself From More Than Ghosts!
It’s Halloween! Tonight, children (and enthusiastic individuals of all ages) will don costumes and make their way around the neighborhood, spreading Halloween cheer in the hopes of collecting gluttonous amounts of candy, which should last them weeks but will probably only last days!
With this entry, the personal injury attorneys at Aronberg and Aronberg want to make homeowners aware of the possible terrors that await them this evening. Aside from the impending frights of children dressed-up as ghosts and evildoers, there remains the very realistic possibility that homeowners, because of incidents that could take place tonight, may face a premises liability lawsuit, holding them liable when someone is injured on their property.
Isn’t premises liability always an issue? Absolutely. Why stress this on Halloween? We are making a point of this on Halloween this year, as we do every year, because tonight is a night when it is acceptable (and expected) that scores if not hundreds of people will be trekking across your property. Chances are, they won’t be walking (or running) with extreme caution, as they will want to dart to your door as quickly as possible in order to obtain their sweets and move on to the next source of sugar. Because of their haste, it may be that children, or the parents and babysitters chasing after them, slip or trip and fall on your property and injure themselves.
Under Florida’s premises liability laws, as a homeowner, you are liable for the injuries of individuals who injure themselves on your property if they are lawfully on the property. While it is probably the case that you won’t be sending our explicit invitations to every neighborhood child to come to your door this evening, it is also true that Halloween is a night on which visits from neighborhood children are expected, especially if they have been expected in the past. Thus, we can classify these candy-seekers as “social guests” on your property, and you have the responsibility of maintaining your property in a reasonably safe condition to prevent injury to your “guests.”
Furthermore, we stress this point on Halloween because it is during this time of the year that people often have additional objects on their front lawn – objects that might pose a danger to individuals walking across your lawn. For example, fake gravestones, electrical cords that light-up Halloween displays, scattered pumpkins – all of these things, in the dark, can be dangerous obstacles over which people can trip and hurt themselves.
If you don’t want guests on Halloween, make an effort to keep them from your property. Keep porch lights turned off. Keep decorations off of your lawn. Maybe even put up a sign saying “Sorry, no candy here.” (You could also leave out a bucket of dental floss; that will keep them away!) You might still be held liable for injuries incurred by uninvited guests/trespassers on your property, but not if the injuries were caused by simple slip and falls. However, if, for example, you had a pile of knives facing upward on your front lawn, and a trespasser tripped and pierced him/herself on the knives, you might be held liable.
Have fun this Halloween, but be safe! Make sure your lawn is free from dangerous obstacles so that children are protected from injury and you are protected from litigation.
If you have been wronged by the negligence of another individual or the wrongdoing of a company, call us for a free consultation. Let us tell you how we can help you. You can reach us at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg by phone at 561-266-9191 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.