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Take precautions to avoid a Halloween lawsuit

It won't be long before pumpkins and scarecrows start showing up on porches and doorsteps around town -- which means that Halloween is coming.

If you participate in the local trick-or-treat festivities, you need to take certain steps to keep your property safe for visitors. Here's what you should do:

Prior to the event

Before trick-or-treat night arrives, take a good look at your property. See if any obvious repairs need done, including:

  • Broken steps leading to your door
  • Damaged walkways or broken concrete
  • A rusted out or loose handrail on the steps

Get repairs done to avoid accidental falls as guests move up and down your walk and steps to get candy.

The day of the event

Give your yard and walkway a check to make sure that there aren't any loose toys, abandoned tools, hoses or electrical cords lying around where someone could fall over them.

Give your walkway a sweep so that any downed leaves are brushed aside, making it easier for guests to keep their footing.

Move plants, pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns aside where they can't be knocked over (or fall on guests).

Consider adding a light source to your walkway if your porch light doesn't clearly illuminate the path. That will also encourage people to stay on the path and not cut through your yard!

During the event

Don't go out of your way to scare any children who come to your door. Too many injuries can happen if a child turns and bolts off your porch in fear.

Make sure that you use battery-operated lights inside your jack-o-lanterns so that you don't have to worry that any costumes will accidentally catch fire.

If you have pets, especially dogs, make certain that they are tucked safely in a room or cage that's far away from the door. You don't want to risk an accidental bite by an overexcited animal.

Slip-and-fall accidents and other injuries associated with negligent property upkeep are a serious issue -- and property owners are expected to keep their premises reasonably safe for guests, including on Halloween. Anyone who is injured due to a dangerous property condition would be wise to consider all their legal options for recovery, especially when the injuries are serious.

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