Avoiding Halloween Premises Liability

ELI5: Negligence

On Halloween, there seem to be two kinds of people: one group of people sees it as a fun holiday where you dress up and pass out candy to adorable kids. The other group of people see it as a dreadful day, where screeching children continually knock at their door—uninvited—interrupting the evening and causing fur babies to bark endlessly. Though we might all be a bit cheerier if we were like the first group of people, this post was mostly written for the second group of people. Do you know how to avoid liability when one of your neighbor’s (totally uninvited) meddling kids is injured on your property?


When you’re dealing with a premises liability lawsuit, the legal status of the plaintiff matters a lot. As a property owner, you aren’t responsible for keeping your property safe for trespassers, but you are responsible for keeping your property safe for guests and implied invitees. In simple terms, if the owner of the property has done something that would tell a reasonable person that people are allowed on the premises, the people who enter the premises are implied invitees. For example, if a person puts a sign in their yard that reads, “Yard sale,” it could be safely assumed that the owners want people to come onto their property to purchase items from their yard sale, even though the property owner never invited specific people onto their property. This does mean, however, that if a person was injured on the property, the owner may be liable for the person’s injuries.


Avoiding Halloween Premises Liability

On Halloween, due to America’s culture, people have a good reason to believe that they are invited to knock on your door to receive candy, especially if your porch light is on. This means that, even though people are coming onto your property uninvited, there’s an implication that you want them to be there. So, even if a person came onto your property uninvited, you may still be liable for their injuries on Halloween. Furthermore, children are very rarely, if ever, legally considered to be trespassers. On Halloween, this would be especially true if you had lots of fun decorations that all but begged children to come to get injured on your property.


If you have lots of Halloween decorations in your front lawn, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re going to have candy and thus, you want people to come onto your property. If you want to minimize liability, you’re going to have to keep all your decorations inside your home. Normally you should keep your porch well-lit, but on Halloween night you might want to leave it dark and turn the lights inside the house off. In most areas of the country, a dark and quiet house on Halloween means “move on.” You will also have to forfeit passing out candy. If you have a candy dish sitting outside your home, it’s an invitation for people to come onto your property. If being the boring neighbor has you down, you can always assuage your guilt by telling yourself that you’re not passing out candy due to the childhood obesity epidemic. Nobody has to know that your true motives stem from avoiding premises liability.


Avoiding Halloween Premises Liability

According to the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners have a higher duty of care toward children because children aren’t able to anticipate the potential dangers of fun and attractive things. If you have potentially dangerous land conditions such as rivers, ponds, sinkholes, etc., you need to take extra precautions to make sure a child doesn’t get injured on your property. Trampolines, swimming pools, animals, playground equipment, and exterior construction can all be very dangerous, thus very attractive, to children. If your property has potentially unsafe features, you may want to put up signs, caution tape, and fences to dissuade children from entering your super dangerous property.


Homeowners are required to keep their property safe for guests and implied invitees. If you or your meddling kids have been injured due to a negligent homeowner, Moxie Law Group can help you win the compensation you deserve. Property owners have a legal obligation to protect others from dangers on their property. At Moxie Law Group, those negligent homeowners just might have gotten away with it—if it wasn’t for your “meddling kids.”

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