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Premises Liability: The Trick is on You!

Halloween is just around the corner and this is usually a time of excitement for many people who enjoy the holiday. Kids are eager to trick or treat and get candy. But for some, the costumes and ghouls aren't as scary as a potential lawsuit for premises liability. There is always a chance that someone can get hurt while on your property, especially when people are on your property in the dark coupled with unfixed decorations. So then the question is, are you liable if someone gets hurt on your property?

The simple answer to this question is yes. Landowners have a duty to ensure that all people they invite onto their property will not get hurt. Even if you are renting, depending on the terms of your lease agreement, you may still be liable for providing unsafe conditions to your guests. The highest standard of care is thus given to invitees, who are personal guests to a property. A similar level of diligence is also required of business owners to their customers, known as licensees.

Landowners can be held liable if at least one of the following are true:

1. The owner must have caused or created the dangerous conditions.

2. The owner must have known about the dangerous condition, but failed to fix it.

3. The owner should have known about the dangerous conditions.

What if someone was NOT invited into your home and they got injured? Trespassers are usually an exception, but the landowner may still be deemed liable if they created a hazard or where they knew of a hazard and knew of trespassers who could potentially be harmed by it but did nothing to fix it.

TIPS FOR HALLOWEEN NIGHT:

1. Keep pets indoors!

2. Make sure the walkway(s), front yard, porch, and any steps are well lit.

3. All the fixtures, ornaments, lighting, and other decorations should be secure and fixed in place.

4. Remove all trip hazards, i.e. toys, hoses, electrical cords, etc.

5. Use battery-powered candles instead of real candles to reduce fire hazards.

6. Be cautious of any fog machines or dry ice, as it is hard to see.

Be smart and try to make sure your property is as safe as possible on Halloween, because if the monsters don't get to you, a lawsuit might! 

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