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How to avoid being the target of a holiday injury lawsuit

Don’t blink — the holidays are coming!

In fact, they’re pretty much already here — people are already starting the rounds of early festivities, whether they’re kicking off the season with a Halloween party or a Thanksgiving spread, the holiday season and all its chaotic (but wonderful) delights are starting.

That means, if you’re a business or homeowner, you have a few tasks ahead of you if you want to avoid starting the new year defending yourself in a personal injury lawsuit.

Generally speaking, if you’re a homeowner, anybody who is on your property for a holiday party is there as a social guest. If you own a business, your customers are invitees. Either way, you owe a duty of care to make sure that the premises are reasonably safe from obvious dangers. Fail to act, and the negligence is on your head — and your insurance company will have to defend you in the lawsuit brought by your injured guest or customer.

To keep everyone safe, consider following these tips:

  • Take care of obvious hazards that could cause someone to fall: snow or ice on the walks, broken asphalt in the parking lot, a damaged stairway, a missing light on the stairway and carpet that’s frayed (and likely to catch someone’s holiday heels as they walk by).
  • If you have dogs or cats — put Fido and Fluffy out of the house or in a different room while your guests are there, even if they all know the dog and the cat. Cats can be unpredictable at best and their claws can do some serious damage if they don’t feel like being bothered by a human. Dogs can get worked up and bite from sheer excitement — or misinterpret an overly friendly and loud hug as an attack on his or her master.
  • If you are serving alcohol, whether at a Thanksgiving feast or at a wine-tasting event in your little art store, don’t let a guest get visibly intoxicated. If someone is clearly drunk, either call an Uber ride or take the person home yourself.

You want everyone to enjoy the holidays just as much as you do, so play it safe. However, if you end up falling victim to an injury caused by one of the things listed above because someone else didn’t take the proper precautions, talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as you can.

Source: FindLaw, “Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?,” accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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