The holiday season is here! While many residents in the community show off their spirit with holiday lights and decorations around their home, it is important to remember the responsibility of homeowners to their premises.

If you decide to design a spectacular lights show that will attract neighbors to observe, and you do not shovel your sidewalk or remove the ice from your driveway, you could end up with a premises liability lawsuit on your hands.

By law, if a homeowner invites guests to their property, they may be liable for damages if someone suffers from an injury due to a hazard or dangerous condition on the property.  After the extension of an invitation, the homeowner must ensure the safety of his or her invited guests. This may hold true for people that are hurt on your property, even if you did not directly invite them; however, there was a reasonable expectation they might be visiting your property. Failure to ensure your property is safe may result in a premises liability lawsuit for the victim’s injuries.

There were approximately 15,000 injuries that were seen in emergency departments involving holiday decorations during the 2012 holiday season according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC.) This number has steadily increased over the past few years. They estimate 250 injuries per day during the holiday season. The CPSC guesses there are about 4,000 injuries treated in the emergency room due to accidents involving electric extension cords. Half of these injuries account for lacerations, fractures, contusions, or sprains from victims tripping over extension cords. Children younger than five years old account for 13 percent of this statistic with half of their injuries being electrical burns to the mouth.

While holiday decorations are meant to make your home warm, inviting, and festive, they can quickly turn disastrous. Falls are common when hanging up holiday lights using a ladder, accounting for over one-third of holiday decorating related injuries.

Some also suffer from electric shock if lights are not properly tested. To avoid shock, be sure to use a wooden or plastic ladder instead of a metal one. Always test lights and never overload extension cords.

Christmas tree fires are another cause of injury during the holiday season. The CPSC states that between 2009 and 2011, there were an estimated 200 fires in which the Christmas tree was the first source to ignite. In those two years, there were 10 deaths and $16 million dollars in property loss.

 

To prevent a premises liability lawsuit, take a look at these 8 tips for keeping you, your family, and your neighbors safe around your holiday decorations.

 

1. Shovel and de-ice your driveway as well as your sidewalk

This will help prevent slip and fall accidents outside of your home, making it safe for your holiday guests.

 

2. Use sturdy tools to hang decorations to prevent them from falling

Tape or Velcro will not cut it when it comes to icicle lights, use appropriate clips that attach to your gutters or the shingles of your house.

 

3. Get rid of lights with broken wires

Check all of your lights prior to hanging them because broken wires can cause an electrical fire in an instant.

 

4. If you have a real tree, water it frequently

The drier the tree, the more flammable it is.

 

5. Never leave a candle or fire unattended

Even if it is away from a flammable source, a candle could easily get knocked over by a pet or child causing a house fire.

 

6. Make sure the outside of your home is well-lit if you are expecting visitors

Your guests can then watch where they are walking, preventing a fall.

 

7. Check for trip and fall hazards

Move extension cords out of the way or tape them down if necessary.

 

8. Take extra precautions when you expect children to visit

While you may think your holiday decorations are festive, small parts could pose a choking hazard, so be careful when you know children will be visiting your home.

 

If you or a loved one has been a victim of injuries in a premises liability accident, contact the best personal injury lawyers in Central New York. The People’s Lawyer is ready to fight for you and your rights. Contact Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi & Pearlman for effective legal advice and a free consultation today.

 

 

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