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Can Homeowners Be Liable for Trick-or-Treat Injuries?

Trick-or-treating can be an enjoyable way to spend time with your kids. But it can also be an experience that leads to a trip to the hospital. While homeowners might have fun decorating their houses and inviting costumed revelers to their doorsteps for sweet treats, they must ensure that their properties are free of any hazards that could pose a danger to visitors. Halloween decorations, uneven walkways, or other unsafe conditions can cause a slip and fall, resulting in serious injury to you or your children. If the homeowner knew of the danger but did not fix it or warn you (and others) about it, they could be liable for damages. As the party bringing the claim, you must prove that the property owner breached their duty of care to collect compensation.

At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., our Kansas City lawyers help injured parties seek justice and financial recovery after being hurt on someone’s property. Schedule a consultation with us by calling (888) 398-2277 or submitting an online contact form today.

The Homeowner’s Responsibilities

During the Halloween season, homeowners might have decorations on their lawns, on pathways leading to their doors, and at their doorsteps. If they’ve got their porch light on, they are inviting you (and others) to walk up to their home for a treat.

These homeowners are legally responsible for keeping their property safe for you and other trick-or-treaters. That means the decorations should be put up so that they are visible and any known or possible hazards are addressed. It also means that they fix any existing dangers on their properties (those not associated with the decorations) or warn of the hazards.

Possible dangerous conditions on Halloween night include, but are not limited to:

  • Poorly lit walkways and porches
  • Unmarked danger zones
  • Loose bricks
  • Cracked pathways
  • Fallen leaves and branches
  • Exposed extension cords for Halloween decorations
  • Ground-level decorations (e.g., tombstones, skeletons, etc.)

Hazards on the premises can lead to slips and falls or other accidents.

Walking across someone’s property where the known dangers aren’t addressed could result in the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Back injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Sprained ankles or wrists
  • Neck injuries
  • Knee damage

If you are injured while trick-or-treating, you may have the right to file a claim or lawsuit against the homeowner under premises liability laws.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability laws allow injured parties to hold property owners responsible for harm sustained on the property.

To seek compensation, you must prove that:

  • The homeowner owed you a duty of care. During Halloween, if a homeowner has their porch light on, they are inviting trick-or-treaters to their property. In this situation, you are considered a licensee under Missouri’s premises liability law. If a homeowner knows that a dangerous condition exists on their property, they must take steps to prevent the licensee from being harmed. For instance, if they notice that an extension cord for a blow-up ghost could be a tripping hazard, they must find a way to cover it.
  • The homeowner was aware of the dangerous condition. If the homeowner knew that the property conditions were unsafe for guests but failed to address or warn of them, they have breached their duty of care. Returning to the extension cord example, the homeowner may be liable if they knew the extension cord could lead to a fall but did not secure it to the ground.
  • The owner’s negligence caused harm. Failing to fix or address a danger could cause trick-or-treaters to trip and break their bones or suffer other injuries.
  • The accident led to expenses and losses. As an injured trick-or-treater, you can only collect compensation if you suffered damages, such as medical bills.

An Attorney Can Help Build Your Case

If you or a loved one was injured while trick-or-treating because of a homeowner’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, and other damages. Pursuing just recovery requires building compelling arguments. A personal injury lawyer can help develop your legal strategy.

To speak with a member of our Kansas City team at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., please call us at (888) 398-2277 or contact us online today.