So, picture this, you put a lot of effort into making the perfect cookies for Santa. Not only were those cookies delicious, but they looked like they came straight off of a househusband’s Christmas Pinterest board. Plus, your extra cautious driving put you at the very top of Santa’s “nice list” so it’s no surprise that you got everything you wanted for Christmas. However, you are a bit taken aback when a process server shows up on your doorstep with a demand letter from the North Pole. Apparently, Santa’s taking you to court because he sustained injury while delivering your gifts. If Santa’s injured while delivering presents, can he file a personal injury claim?
WHAT IS PREMISES LIABILITY?
In the most broad terms, premises liability refers to the liability that a property owner has when a person is injured on their property due to the property owner’s negligence. Premises liability applies to both residential and commercial property owners. So, if you own a property, you are responsible for keeping that property safe for guests. This may mean that you remove any hazards on the property. If a hazard cannot be removed, such as a large hole in the floor, then a property owner needs to take reasonable precautions in order to ensure that nobody is injured due to the hazardous condition on their property.
WHAT IS AN IMPLIED INVITEE?
An implied invitee is a person who is allowed on the property but may not have been explicitly invited. When you go to Walmart, nobody invites you to the premises, therefore you aren’t a guest. But you aren’t a trespasser either, unless an employee asks you to leave their fine establishment. When you go to Walmart, you’re considered to be an implied invitee. Though you haven’t been expressly invited, Walmart has done something (selling items, advertising, and leaving their doors unlocked in order to let customers in to buy their stuff) to let the public know that they’d like people to come to their store and hopefully purchase items. And, depending on the circumstances, Santa Claus may be considered to be an implied invitee. So, if he’s injured at your home, you may be liable depending on how the injury occurred.
WHAT ABOUT THE COOKIES?
If you make cookies for Santa, and they make him sick, you may be liable. Especially if Santa becomes significantly ill because you used contaminated or expired ingredients to make the cookies, and you knew they were likely bad. Or, let’s say Santa has a widely known nutmeg allergy, you could be liable for an allergic reaction because you knew, or reasonably should have known that Santa would get sick by eating your cookies. And you could face even greater liability if Santa sent you a text to notify you of his severe nutmeg allergy. Keep Santa safe this year by using fresh ingredients that aren’t contaminated, and be aware of food allergies. Wash your hands before cooking, and make sure all your culinary equipment is clean, along with the surfaces you’re cooking on.
If you want Santa to come to your house, you oughta make sure you have a clean chimney. If there are hazards in your chimney, Santa may have a claim against you. Especially if you’ve done something to make him think that you want him to come to your house. Putting traps in your chimney for Santa is a fast way to wind up in a premises liability lawsuit. See, even if you didn’t expressly invite him, it’s a widely accepted cultural phenomenon that Santa visits homes, typically through the chimney, on Christmas Eve to bring presents for children to open on Christmas day. So, if you’ve got a chimney, you’d better keep it clean and free of hazards.
YOUR MESSY HOUSE
If you’re thinking of rigging up your house like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone, think again. Kevin McCallister would likely make a lousy defendant in a personal injury case. This is because he intentionally rigged his property with all sorts of dangerous booby traps which he knew would probably injure people. But what if it’s an accident? Well, you could still be liable for injuries caused by your negligence, regardless of your intentions. Let’s say you spill a glass of milk and you decide you’ll clean it up in the morning. Then, Santa comes down the chimney and is injured when he slips on your spilled milk! You may be liable for his injuries since you neglected to remove a known hazard from your premises.
If you’re looking to reduce your liability this holiday season, make sure you take reasonable precautions. Keep Santa’s entryways safe for him to pass through. If there are hazards on your premises, you may wish to remove those as well. If you really, really want to reduce your Claus-related liability, it may be a good idea not to send your Christmas list to the North Pole for St. Nick. Taking down all Christmas decorations and lights may also be a good idea. You can even attempt to forward all gifts from Santa to your in-laws’ home. That way, they can deal with the liability instead of you.
HAVE YOU BEEN INJURED ON SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY?
Joking aside, if you’ve been injured Moxie Law Group is here for you. Premises liability claims can arise when negligent property owners fail to remove hazardous conditions, or mitigate the injuries of their guests due to hazardous conditions on their property. If you have sustained injury due to a negligent homeowner, and you’re ready to get the compensation you deserve, contact Moxie Law Group today to get started with a free consultation.