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Reduce your chances of liability when you host a backyard party

Are you getting ready to have that final cookout of the summer or the first bonfire of the fall season? If so, you want to make sure that you understand how to mitigate the chances of someone getting injured and your liability if they do.

Premise liability is all about anticipating reasonable dangers and taking reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of your guests.

With that in mind, consider informing your guests of the following rules:

  • Nobody handles the grill or the bonfire except you and whomever you designate. Guests are supposed to sit back and enjoy!
  • There's a strict "no kid" zone around the grill, fire pit or bonfire. Parents or other responsible adults have to handle any marshmallow roasting or other fire-related activities for kids.
  • Absolutely no pushing, shoving or general horseplay is permitted anywhere near the fire.

In addition, to make sure that you avoid other easily foreseeable problems:

  • Limit the size of your bonfire or the amount of wood you throw on the fire pit. If you have a grill, make sure that the fire is kept low enough to be safe. Overly-large fires may look spectacular when it gets dark, but falling wood and popping cinders are an unnecessary risk.
  • Keep the appropriate safety devices on hand. A bucket or two of water should be ready to put out a fire quickly and a fire extinguisher should be within easy reach.
  • Limit your guests to no more than a drink or two every hour and cut off anybody who becomes visibly drunk. A drunk guest can easily stumble into a fire pit before anyone can react.
  • Check the ground for tripping hazards and put lights up that can help your guests keep their footing. You don't want a guest to stumble over a loose patio block and land in the fire or break a limb.

With these kinds of precautions in place, you should be able to enjoy your festivities without fear of a lawsuit later.

Anyone who finds themselves injured because of a homeowner's failure to take reasonable precautions to prevent an accident should consult a personal injury attorney regarding the possibility of compensation.

Source: wiseGEEK, "What is Premises Liability?," accessed Aug. 02, 2017

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