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With Holiday Guests Arriving, it is Time to Hone up on Premises Liability

Now that the holiday season is here, most homeowners can expect more traffic in front of their home. Guests and family may be arriving for festivities. Delivery personnel may be arriving with packages of gifts. Carollers may be present in some communities and in some cases charities send out door-to-door solicitors at this time of year.

While most of us are happy to open our homes to guests at this time of year, more visitors can mean less time and a greater risk of premises liability problems. With winter conditions and less time to spend cleaning up, your premises may pose a risk for slip and fall injuries, which can lead to bone fractures, head injuries, and other serious injuries. To protect your guests and to protect yourself as a homeowner, remember to:

1) Do a through sweep of the premises before the holidays begin. Are there broken gates or lights that pose a danger? Is there a leaking gutter that is causing a pool of water to form on a walkway? Identify possible dangers and have them fixed promptly. For things that cannot be fixed at once, be sure to pose a notice about the danger to alert any visitors to the problem.

2) Take extra precautions if you are going away for the holidays. Even if you are away, you may be responsible for keeping your outside areas safe. If a child wanders into your backyard due to a faulty gate, for example, and falls into your pool, you may be held liable, even if you are not at home at the time of the incident. If you are going away for the holidays, secure your home very well and hire someone to check in on your property periodically.

3) Hire outside help if you cannot keep up with maintenance work. If you cannot keep your outdoor areas clean and safe, it may be best to hire contractors to clear away water, debris, and other dangers periodically.

4) Keep your home well-lit at night. Poor lighting contributes to many slip and fall accidents. Install motion-detector lights or bright lights along walkways to help visitors reach your home safely.