Should homeowners worry about liability during Halloween?

On October 31, your home or property may be "invaded" by dozens or even hundreds of trick-or-treaters.

But if an accident happens, you and your homeowner's insurance may be responsible.

Personal Injury Attorney Craig Swapp joined us to talk about liability during Halloween.

Swapp says since you are giving out treats and your porch light is on you are actually "inviting" trick-or-treaters onto your property and therefore are responsible for their safety.

He recommends homeowners conduct a safety audit before Halloween:

  1. If you're planning to "prank scare", make sure the children cannot be injured by their reactions to the prank (for example, stepping back in fear and falling over a decoration).
  2. Check to see if your sidewalks, driveways and walkways are well lit.
  3. Check if you have any dangerous outdoor decorations.  Power cords should not be lying around or unsecured.  Halloween decorations should not have any sharp points or edges or obstructions.
  4. Put away any loose toys or bikes that could be a hazard.

Swapp says if a child is injured on your property,  you should seek immediate medical care for the child and notify the parents.  Also, you should be contacting your homeowners insurance carrier to notify them of a possible claim.

Swapp also recommends that parents do seven things to help your kids enjoy the night without mishap.

  1. Sit the kids down and review the rules for the night, such as always trick-or-treating to known homes or familiar neighborhoods, using the buddy system, not entering a stranger`s home, staying on the sidewalk whenever possible, and looking both ways before crossing the street.
  2. Make sure every child is highly visible in the dark by ensuring his or her costume has some type of 'glow in the dark' or reflective decorations.
  3. Teach your children to stay clear of fire hazards such as open-flame candles and lit Jack-o-lanterns. Also, as a safeguard, be sure all costumes are made from fire-retardant materials.
  4. Remind your children to always be on the outlook for cars, especially for those 'follow-along' cars whose driver`s attention may be focused on watching his or her kids, instead of other children who may be crossing the road.
  5. Decide on a meeting place just in case one child becomes separated from the group.
  6. Make sure your goblins have a cell phone available for emergencies, especially for those who insist on trick-or-treating without mom or dad nearby.
  7. Perform a candy audit afterward and dispose of any unwrapped or suspicious candy.

If you need a personal injury attorney, call Craig Swapp  at 1-800-404-9000 or visit: craigswapp.com.

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