On the evening of October 31, 2019, millions of costumed children will take to the streets for tricks, treats, and adventure. But there are many dangers haunting the residential tracts of Georgia, and it has nothing to do with ghouls, ghosts, or goblins.
Georgia’s Premises Liability Laws
Property owners and business owners have a legal responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe environment for guests, passersby, and trespassers (costumed or otherwise). So, why are hundreds of trick-or-treaters and party-goers injured by unexpected safety hazards every October? As Halloween creeps closer, inspired enthusiasts are decorating homes, business spaces, theme parks, and other public venues without considering the potential dangers.
The following catastrophic injuries have been linked to Halloween-based attractions and decorations:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Multiple bone fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Eye injuries
- Burn injuries
- Hip fractures
- Neck injuries
For example, a person can easily slip on fake blood or trip on a poorly-placed headstone. And what about little trick-or-treaters who wander onto someone’s property for candy? Per the state’s attractive nuisance laws, a homeowner is liable for any “attractions” that lure and injure children, such as dogs, hot tubs, and a gory mountain of fake corpses.
A homeowner or business owner can be liable for the following Halloween incidents and safety hazards:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Fall object injuries
- Burn injuries
- Dog bite injuries
- Sharp object injuries
- Exposure to chemicals or allergens
- Swimming pool accidents
- Playground equipment accidents
What Steps Can I Take to Avoid a Premises Liability Lawsuit this October?
According to Georgia statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1, a homeowner or business owner can be held liable “in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.” However, a plaintiff needs to prove 4 critical facts to recover compensation: The property was inherently dangerous or contained hazardous conditions; the owner knew – or at least should have known – about the potential hazard; the owner failed to remove or remedy the hazard; the owner failed to post visible warning signs; these factors resulted in the victim’s injuries.
Fortunately, there are 10 steps you can take to avoid a costly civil lawsuit this Halloween:
- Remove any trip hazards on walkways or heavy traffic areas.
- Keep your yard and walkways brightly lit at night.
- Cover uneven pavement, dirt holes, and slippery surfaces that can cause a slip and fall accident.
- Make sure your pets are locked inside the house on Halloween night.
- Put up warning signs and caution tape for any hazards that can’t be fixed in time.
- Replace pumpkin candles with battery-powered candles, flashlights, or glowsticks.
- Move pumpkins, gravestones, and other decorations to places where they can’t be touched by visitors.
- Make sure your decorations are reasonably child-safe (i.e. no sharp objects).
- Don’t use a fog machine or dry ice; they can affect a person’s vision and burn a trick-or-treater’s skin.
- Cover any swimming pools and fountains that aren’t in use to protect wandering children.
Injured on Someone’s Property?
Contact the premises liability attorneys at Pratt Clay, LLC if you or a loved one is injured on someone’s property this October. Our trial-tested legal team can help you pursue damages that compensate your medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy sessions, and more.