It's the holiday season, and you've invited friends over for a party -- but on the way into your house, someone slips and falls on your driveway.
In most cases the person will pick himself up and be fine, but there's a chance the slip-fall injury could result in some serious pain. Not only will it put a damper on your party, but you could also be held liable for your guest's injuries.
To avoid this scenario during the holidays (or at any time, really), here are some simple safety precautions you can take to ensure that everyone gets to and from your party in one piece:
Look for potential indoor hazards.
All property owners have a responsibility to the people they invite into their homes. You have a duty to use ordinary care to keep your premises safe.
When you invite guests over, make sure there aren't any loose stairs or dangerously broken appliances that could cause injury. If you realize a problem too late to fix it, make sure you warn guests so they can avoid the danger.
Look for potential outdoor hazards.
Your property doesn't just include the interior of your home. It also includes the yard and driveway.
It's important to keep the driveway and walkway to your door clear and free of any dangers or obstructions, especially in the winter and if you're expecting guests. Shoveling after snow and sprinkling walking surfaces with salt will minimize the risk that someone will fall and end up injured.
Prepare for potential legal consequences.
If a guest -- even a close friend -- does end up hurt on your property, you may find yourself in some legal trouble. It's not that your friend necessarily wants to make a fuss. But insurance companies often look for someone else to pin the costs on when a claim is made.
If there's a chance you could be legally liable for the injuries, the insurance company may try to pin it on you.
If you know it's not your fault, don't give in when insurance reps ask you to pay up. Contact an attorney and fight back; depending on the circumstances, perhaps the insurance company, and not you, will foot the bill for your guest's injuries.
So when planning that holiday party, make sure you add pre-party premises inspections to your to-do list. It may take some extra time to tidy up, but it's better than facing a potential slip-fall lawsuit.
- Slip and Fall FAQ (FindLaw)
- Tips to Avoid Premises Liability and Decorate Safely During the Holidays (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)
- Holiday Driving: Prevent A Holiday DUI (FindLaw's Injured)