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 October 24, 2022

7 Legal Tips for Real Halloween Scares

6 kids in Halloween costumes getting candy from a woman on her doorstep.

Be forewarned: on the night of October 31, you’ll have witches, werewolves, vampires—all manner of monsters banging down your door. Then, again, most won’t be older than nine and can be easily pacified with candy.

Yes, Halloween is here, giving kids of all ages a chance to dress up like their favorite ghoul. However, there are genuine scares that can come with this night, and these might haunt you for years to come. Which is why Mike Fiffik, of the LegalShield provider law firm Fiffik Law Group in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has given us seven legal tips to help keep these real-life frights away.

1. Make sure your property is well-lit and remove any obstacles that can cause injury.

If a trick-or-treater is injured on your property, you could be liable for medical bills and other expenses. Do a thorough walkthrough beforehand to remove any potentially harmful obstacles, make sure there’s no ice on the walkways, and if there’s a pool in the backyard, close access to it.

2. Be sure to have homeowners’ insurance before allowing anyone on the property.

If an accident does occur on your property, and you are found responsible, the personal liability coverage on your homeowner’s insurance could pay for the bills that might follow, up to the limits of your coverage. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, get insurance with personal liability coverage, which can help protect you year-round.

3. Don’t serve anything homemade. Only offer treats that are prepackaged and pre-wrapped.

You don’t want your trick-or-treaters to get sick—or get blamed for causing any illness. So, only hand out treats that are commercially wrapped. If, unfortunately, a visitor gets ill after eating a store-bought confection, the manufacturer should be held liable. Not you.

4. Don’t let any kids unaccompanied by an adult into your house for any reason whatsoever.

Once again, the issue is liability, and here, it cuts both ways. If a child enters your house and damages something of value, they won’t be held liable. But their accompanying adult can be. Conversely, if the kid hurts themself in the process, you can be held liable if there’s no adult present.

5. Keep your dog inside and somewhere away from visitors where it cannot get out.

Have a basement, bedroom, or secure backyard you can lock your pooch in? That’s a much better option than letting them roam free. Dogs can be as unpredictable as kids and might bite a child if mishandled or over-amped by too many visitors. Once again, you’ll be held liable.

6. Offer treats that have no nuts. Keep these separate, and make sure you tell visitors that there’s a non-nut allergy option.

Peanut allergies are the second most common food allergy in children. Protect your young guests from an allergic reaction—and protect yourself from being held responsible for that reaction.

7. If you set up a live display, make sure your decorations don’t touch visitors.

Halloween displays are getting ever more imaginative, scary, and realistic. Make sure you don’t traumatize a child by pulling them into a frightening tableau—or, even worse, injure them in the process.

Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to PPLSI members through membership-based participation. Neither PPLSI nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation, or advice. The information available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations. The blog post is not a substitute for competent legal counsel from a licensed professional lawyer in the state or province where your legal issues exist, and the reader is strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel for your specific legal matter. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be a third-party paid contributor. All information by authors is accepted in good faith, however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.

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