Homeowner Liability for Trick-or-Treat Injuries
October 12, 2021
While many homeowners enjoy decorating their houses and welcoming trick-or-treaters to the front door for candy, they may not think about the risks of a trick-or-treater or visitor being injured on the homeowner’s property. When a trick-or-treater is injured in an accident while walking on someone else’s property, is that homeowner liable for the trick-or-treater’s injuries?
Premises Liability for Trick-or-Treater Injuries
By tradition, when a homeowner has a porch light or front light on, they are inviting trick-or-treaters to come onto the property for candy or other treats. Therefore, trick-or-treaters are considered invitees, meaning that homeowners owe a duty to take reasonable steps to keep their property free of hazards that may cause an accident or to warn visitors to the property of the presence and location of such hazards.
A homeowner could be held liable for trick-or-treater’s injuries if the homeowner’s negligence caused a condition on the property that led to the trick-or-treater’s accident. This may include the homeowner actually creating the condition themselves (for example, digging a hole or a ditch on their property) or by failing to take reasonable efforts to identify hazards and either fix them or warn visitors about them. If a homeowner has cracked or uneven pavement on their walkway, a trick-or-treater who trips and falls on the walkway may argue that the homeowner was negligent in failing to repair the walkway or post a warning sign.
Where a homeowner has homeowners’ insurance, their insurance company will likely provide coverage for any liability that the homeowner has to any trick-or-treater who is hurt by a dangerous or defective condition of the homeowner’s property.
Steps Homeowners Can Take to Keep Trick-or-Treaters Safe
Fortunately, there are steps that homeowners can take before Halloween evening to help reduce the risk of a trick-or-treater being injured on the homeowner’s property:
- Make sure that your front lawn is well-lit. Motion-sensor-activated lights may be preferable to avoid having bright lights on throughout the evening.
- Homeowners may want to have always-on lights for their walkways from the public sidewalk up to the front door. Having a lit walkway may encourage trick-or-treaters to walk on the paved walkways rather than across your lawn where there might be vines, divots, or other hazards. Lighting up your walkway will also help visitors notice any slipping or tripping hazards on the walkway.
- Avoid having any open flames, such as using real candles in a jack-o-lantern or paper lantern. Always use LED lights wherever possible.
- Because many children will look to cut across front lawns to get from door to door as quickly as possible, keep your yard clear of any obvious tripping hazards, such as wires, cords, hoses, vines, or holes, or use signs to clearly mark their presence.
- Also make sure that the paved walkways to your front door are free of plant debris or broken or uneven pavement.
- Consider setting up a station at the end of your front walkway or driveway to hand out candy while trick-or-treaters are still on the public sidewalk
- Avoid putting up Halloween decorations that use jump scares, which can cause people to trip or fall, or that use strobe light or fog/smoke effects, which can aggravate epileptic or respiratory conditions
Contact a Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Premises Liability Accident Case in Pennsylvania
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a premises liability accident in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. represent clients injured because of premises liability accidents in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western PA counties. Call (412) 766-1455 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 3634 California Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Home visits can be arranged in certain situations.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.