Candy and Costumes and Lawsuits, Oh My! Halloween-Related Legal Issues

Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “May I choose my own doctor in a personal injury case?”


Since the season of Halloween is upon us, we figured now might be as good a time as any for a discussion of the potential pitfalls the revelries this weekend can pose. Because what’s scarier than the prospect of a household full of children pumped full of sugar? Facing any of these potential legal issues.


Burning Jack o lantern Charlotte Injury LawyerSocial host liability…and more

Most Halloween-related legal issues revolve around the concept of social host liability. The idea is that if you voluntarily invite someone onto your property, you are potentially liable for injuries they sustain while there. Whether it’s the overgrown hedges you’ve been meaning to trim or the driveway lights that still need installing so the neighborhood kids don’t trip their way up to your front door, addressing it pre-trick-or-treaters can help clear the path for a safe and lawsuit-free Halloween. The same logic applies to Fido—corralling your pets on All Hallows’ Eve can help forestall any late-night panicky calls to your attorney to talk about your local dog bite liability laws.

And as appealing as the spooky ambiance from a jack-o-lantern illuminated via candlelight may be, many insurance companies now recommend using flashlights, glow sticks or other non-flammable alternatives to forestall any disasters. When it comes to throngs of teetering tots wrapped in layers of adorable but bulky costumes, there’s no telling who can end up bumping into what.

Speaking of younger trick-or-treaters, it is also important to be aware of negligent supervision laws in your area.  If a child’s costume comes with sharp or pointed props—think bow-and-arrows, swords, etc.—many parents will opt for softer or plush props, or only use the pointy props at home for pictures. If your child accidentally hurts another person, you could be held liable.

When alcohol is added into the mix, the issue of social host liability gets even stickier—it means you can be liable for injuries invitees cause or sustain even after leaving your property. If you’re hosting parties with minors in attendance, it is important to be aware that you can be held liable for intentionally or negligently providing alcohol to underage drinkers. If you knew—or even should have known—that a minor was going to drive a car after drinking alcohol you provided, you can also be held liable for third-party injuries they cause thereafter.

Although it doesn’t relate to personal injury law per se, those considering allowing older children to trick-or-treat unsupervised may be reassured to know that North Carolina, like many states, requires registered sex offenders to stay home on Halloween and keep their houses off the trick-or-treating routes. Corrections officers will be checking on registered offenders on Halloween night to make sure all registered offenders are home between the hours of 5 and 11 p.m., have their porch lights out, and are not passing out candy.

Don’t let our words of caution scare you off—they’re all towards everyone having a safe and fun Halloween. We just want to help ensure that any potential Halloween-related lawsuits against you turn out like the zombie’s—did you hear? It got dismissed. He didn’t have a leg to stand on.

If you or someone close to you has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.


About the Author

Matt Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.





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