David: Do you prepare the decorations and candy for the little ghosts and ghouls that are gonna be showing up at your doorstep this Halloween? You should be aware that there are safety measures that need to be taken for legal standpoints.
Jan: Attorney Jeff Kroll is here to discuss how making the right precautions could save you from a lawsuit. So, there’s a lot of lawsuits, obviously, during this time of the year. You said the number one is dog bites?
Jeff: Well, I’ll go back to that. We were talking a little bit. You know, when you think about this time of the year, Sunday, we’ll change our clocks because of daylight savings time ends. And there’s been this campaign for over 20 years, “Change your batteries,” etc. I think it’s a great time right now to do a self-assessment in your own property.
And going to the dog bites, it is probably the highest day of the year for dog bite injuries, which is second among kids, because of these agitated dogs. Parents putting them in goofy costumes, our dog wearing the skeleton costume as we speak right now, he’s four pounds, he’s mad.
Jeff: So for a trick or treater…
David: And a homeowner is liable, obviously.
David: So here’s another one that comes to mind. Now, I have a co-worker here at the station who just gets into the spirit every Halloween. He does the house stuff and all kinds of crazy stuff. And then he sits on his porch dressed as a gorilla. And he pretends to be, you know, just a mild gorilla. But as soon as the little kid jumps up, he jumps up and tries to scare him.
Jan: And by co-worker, David means himself.
David: I do not mean myself.
Jan: He wants to say co-worker.
David: I have another story.
Jeff: Like we like to say, “Take a jury.”
David: I have a friend. No, it’s not me.
Jan: Okay, so what happened?
David: Anyway, if something happens to one of these kids, for example, he goes, “Aah,” the kid falls and hits their head on something or…
Jeff: That’s a little far fetched, but where this…
David: Are they liable?
Jeff: I doubt it under that scenario. But what is a larger scenario where there’s going to be a liability, if there’s a broken handrail, broken step. Somebody goes to reach for a handrail, it’s not there, that’s where we see a lot of liability. We were talking off air for a second about thinking like a child. You know, for children, the most direct path is a straight line. You know, living in the suburbs, we’d love for people to be walking out in the sidewalk and not traipsing across our lawn. It doesn’t happen. On Halloween, they’re going from house to house across the lawn. That’s where we see most of the liability, because a tree stump has been…you know, a tree is taken out, there’s a tree stump, kids are running, they hit the tree stomp because it’s dark. Hose is still out there. I had a case where there was an excavation, that there was a big hole, and a young man running from house to house fell and broke his leg and had surgery.
David: Sure. And that can happen all year round. I mean, well, specifically, this time of year, you have electric lines running all around the place.
David: People’s, you know, trying to do nice thing and having a fun time. But that sounds to me like there’s a potential for a legal problem with that.
Jeff: Absolutely. And, you know, like you said, your friend, with the elaborate cast, with the elaborate house, you know, that’s where you’re gonna run into problem sometimes.
Jan: Yeah, David.
Jeff: Yeah, just the friend. I kinda respect it.
Jan: Now let’s go back to your case. So, in the case where you had a client where he fell and then broke his leg, so the homeowner was liable for that. How much money did it cost them?
Jeff: You know, I think it was $275,000, you know. So it’s an expensive Halloween for some people.
Jan: Oh, my gosh.
Jeff: That’s why I’m here today to tell you there’s a great opportunity to do a self-assessment of your property, whether it’s starting something simplistic as making sure your lights are working, guard against these holes, the uneven sidewalks. One thing I wouldn’t allow people to do is come in your house. You know, it’s easy for the suburbs to say, “No one’s gonna enter my house,” but in the city, if you live in a two-flat, three-flat…
David: Could I get in trouble because I turned the lights down to try to create a mood and then someone trips on the property?
Jeff: Absolutely, absolutely.
David: But it’s Halloween.
Jeff: You know, it’s fun and games for them, it could be a nightmare for you as the homeowner.
David: Yeah, it sounds like it.
Jan: That’s it, I’m not handing out candy. Their bikes [SP] a lot of my property.
David: That’s it. My costumes, put them on the closet.
Jeff: There goes the gorilla.
David: He got that out. No more fun at the Navarro. Okay, thanks a lot.