When you set out the door on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating with the kids, the last thing you expected was to end up in the hospital — but there you are.
Maybe you tried to steady yourself as you walked down some porch steps by putting your hand out on a broken railing — or maybe the steps themselves gave way because they were rotten. Either way, you’re looking at considerable time off work, a lot of medical bills and maybe some long-term issues with your back and neck.
Can you sue? After all, you weren’t “officially” invited to this home? The answer depends on the circumstances.
Property owners aren’t free of liability on Halloween
If you injured yourself by cutting across a dark lawn to get to the next house with its porch lights blazing, you may have a hard time pursuing your claim. For the most part, property owners don’t owe a strong duty of care to protect uninvited (and unwanted) trespassers from slips, trips, falls and other hazards.
However, if you were injured at a home that had its lights on and was passing out treats, that makes you and your children “invited guests,” and that means the property owner has a much higher duty of care.
Even on Halloween, property owners are expected to eliminate or minimize known hazards on their property, warn their invited guests of potential dangers and generally take pains to protect their visitors from harm.
That means things like making sure the steps are free of clutter and debris, putting jack-o-lanterns with candles far out of reach of little fingers, making sure that pets are inside where they can’t bite anybody and making sure that steps and railings are in good condition.
If Halloween turned into a genuine nightmare for you or your loved one, make sure that you find out more about your potential right to compensation for your losses. Most homeowners have policies that are designed to cover premise liability claims.