Tricks, Treats, and Homeowners Liability on Halloween

October 20 2017 | Personal Injury Lawyer Blog
  • 179 million Americans are planning to participate in Halloween festivities according to one study by the National Retail Federation. With so many people embracing the holiday, the implications on safety during the holiday are vast.

    “November 1st is a busy day for insurance adjusters given that more vandalism claims are filed on Halloween than any other day of the year,” said Christopher Hackett, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) director of personal lines policy. “The fun of Halloween also brings more risk of auto and homeowner claims.”

    Halloween Safety Tips

    Halloween Safety Tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Halloween Safety Tips from Safe Kids Worldwide
    Driving Safety During Halloween – (AAA)

    Road Safety for Halloween from Consumer Reports

    Invitation to Come

    As millions of kids come to seek out their treats, most are not looking for tricks. They just want the candy. Homeowners have a legal responsibility to ensure safety for every person that enters their property if they do one simple thing on Halloween.

    “When the porch light is on, trick-or-treaters are considered invitees; the homeowner is inviting them onto the property (though not for a mutual benefit),” said the Insurance Journal.  “Because of this relationship, the homeowner owes the candy seekers the level of ‘reasonable’ care that falls under Ordinary Negligence.”

    Leaving the light off, however, means the homeowner has not invited them on his property for candy. So, if a homeowner is not handing out candy, this is a good precaution for safety.

    Take preventative measure

    While many people will decorate their lawns, porches or steps with spooky objects and maybe even gory scenes, it’s always important to keep it safe.

    “Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to child safety,” said Safe Kids Worldwide.

    Even though there is a “mood” homeowners may be trying to set, premises liability is something that should be taken into account as well.

    “You do not want any obstructions preventing those costumed kiddos from getting their loot,” warned insurance agency Rabbett Insurance. “And don’t assume they are going to use your walkway. They will take the most direct route to ‘candyville’, which will most likely be your front lawn.”

    Travelers Insurance encourages homeowners to walk their property before Halloween to identify potential dangers that won’t be seen after dark.

    “Ensure that your front yard, walkway, and entryway are well-lit so that those unfamiliar with your home can safely navigate. If using a fog machine, be careful that the fog does not make it difficult to see tripping hazard,” they said.

    The decorations themselves can also be a point to consider.

    “Homeowners should keep in mind that their creepy crawly decorations can also become an attractive nuisance that could cause liability claims under a homeowners insurance policy,” said Hackett. “Although carving pumpkins is an annual family tradition, using candles can be a major fire hazard. The National Fire Protection Association reports that Halloween decorations cause over 1,000 home fires each year.  Use battery operated candles instead and if you do use real candles, don’t forget to blow them out when the night is over.”

    Stick With Store-Bought Treats

     “Unless you’ve got some products liability on those Kind Bar™ knockoffs, stick with store-bought treats and do not repackage them in any way,” cautioned Rabbett Insurance.  “Not only will this avoid you having to clean the eggs off your siding the next day, but will ensure that no one sues you when their little witch turns green (for real) from food poisoning, or has an allergic reaction to your homemade treats. And, by-the-way, if you have vandalism coverage on your homeowner’s policy, the damage from the rotten eggs should be covered.”

    Protect Your Child If They Go Trick or Treating

    Check out our box, where we’ve sourced four other blogs by industry leaders to keep your kids safe on Halloween.

    “The risk for injury on Halloween is one of the highest of the year”, says AAA.

    “In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year.”

    “Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists and parents must be even more alert.


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