Don’t Be Haunted by a Claim this Halloween

Trick-or-TreatI remember when I was a kid out trick-or-treating.  There was always this house set up kind of like a haunted house.  Usually someone was jumping out from behind a corner or popping out of a box, trying to get you to scream like a little school girl.  That is part of the fun of Halloween.  However, I’m in insurance, more specifically claims, so it also gets me thinking about the things that could go wrong on Halloween and result in a premises liability claim. 

Consider this:  trick-or-treaters are considered “social guests” as classified by Ohio law.  A host who invites a social guest onto his or her premises owes the guest a duty to exercise ordinary care so they don’t cause injury to the guest while he or she is on the premises. 

Here are a few things to think about if you are planning on turning on the front porch light and inviting those trick-or-treaters to stop by:

  • Make sure there is a clear path to your door, or your candy bowl if you set it out.  Don’t leave anything in the walkway and give someone a reason to blame you for a fall that might take place.
  • Make sure the area you are inviting the trick-or-treaters to is well-lit.  Most trick-or-treat times are scheduled in the late afternoon and early evening when it is starting to get dark.  Combine this with people wearing masks, which also limits how well they can see. 
  • Think carefully about how and where you would set up a haunted area on your property if that is something you enjoy doing.  Scaring kids next to a set of steps may not be the best idea for obvious reasons.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from having a good time on Halloween.  I just want you to be conscious of the exposures that are possible on this great holiday.   Tell me about your favorite Halloween memory.  Do you have any recommendations for good haunted houses in your area?  Please share!

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