There is nothing quite like getting sued on Christmas to make your holidays cheery. Worse yet, ending up in a jail cell can really ruin your festive mood. From slips and falls and food poisoning to drunken driving vehicle accidents, the list of reasons you might get slapped with a personal injury lawsuit is longer than Santa’s naughty or nice list. The period between Christmas and New Year’s can be especially dangerous, with more vehicle accidents occurring because of the increased traffic on the roadways. Here are some of the most common reasons people get injured during the holidays and the steps you can take to reduce the risk.
Slips, trips, and falls
Broken bones, back and spinal cord injuries, and head trauma are among the nasty injuries that can happen when someone slips, trips, or falls on your property. Icy or snow-covered walkways on your premises is a disaster waiting to happen. They are among the most common reasons people get hurt in others’ property. Even when the weather outside is frightful, if you have guests coming to your home for the holidays, clearing the walk and exterior stairs and keeping them salted must be a priority. Walkways and exterior stairs are not the only areas in your home that can cause your guests to trip and fall. Loose carpeting, uneven flooring, and clutter in common areas can all wreak havoc on unsuspecting guests. Make repairs and declutter your home before inviting people over.
Enjoying a holiday feast with family and friends is a top priority for many during the holidays. Whether you are cooking or having your meal catered, preventing food poisoning must be in the forefront of your mind. Following these tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help prevent food poisoning and other foodborne illness.
- Cook food thoroughly. Meat, seafood, and eggs carry germs that cause food poisoning when not cooked to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to check before serving these foods.
- Keep foods separated. Meat, seafood, and eggs must be kept separate from all other foods. Raw meat juices never should leak onto other foods, so it is important to keep them in sealed containers. Store eggs in their original carton in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination.
- Maintain proper temperature. Once food is prepared, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Avoid the danger zone – between 40- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit – when serving food. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food items within two hours of preparation. Make sure your refrigerator temperature is set at or below 40 degrees F and the freezer is at 0 degrees F or below.
- Wash your hands. When working with food – especially raw meat and eggs – you must wash your hands to avoid cross contaminating other food items or surfaces in your home.
Serve alcohol responsibly
Winter driving brings many hazards with it. Jackknifed tractor trailers, poor visibility, and slippery roads can all lead to vehicle accidents. Fatal drunken driving crashes always are a persistent holiday threat. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Christmas is no exception. The NHTSA recorded 667 fatal holiday crashes on average each year in a report analyzing DUI crashes between 2010 and 2018. DUI-related accidents accounted for 8 percent of total fatalities during the holidays.
While holiday hosts do not bear responsibility for other people’s poor choices, they can be held liable for serving alcohol at a gathering to a guest who later causes a DUI fatality or crash resulting in serious injuries. If you choose to provide alcoholic beverages to your guests, be prepared to take car keys and call a taxi or Uber, or have the person stay over until they sober up.
Maintain control of your pets
We love our furry family members but must be mindful that not everyone we invite into our homes will share our opinion. Liability claims from dog bites and other dog-related injuries alone cost homeowners insurers $854 million in 2020. Even the most well-mannered pet can become anxious and aggressive under the right circumstances. Noise and confusion combined with strangers in their home can be enough to push some pets over the edge. Homeowners must take appropriate steps to ensure their guests do not end up injured by their pets. If negligent of this duty, you can find yourself on the receiving end of a personal injury lawsuit. Sometimes claimants sue for more than your homeowner’s insurance policy will agree to pay, which can leave you on the hook for the balance.
Have a quiet area set up for your pets so they can retreat from the noise and confusion that accompanies most holiday celebrations. Make sure they have food, water, and a comfortable bed in their calm space so they can relax. Tossing a few favorite toys in the area with them can entertain and soothe them. If your pet is especially anxious being separated from you, place an item of your clothing in the room with them. Check on your pet and reassure them from time to time as well.
Avoid getting sued on Christmas
Sometimes the holidays result in a fa-la-la-la-lawsuit. Getting sued on Christmas can happen when you do not take proper precautions before inviting guests onto your property. Even when you take every measure you can think of accidents still sometimes happen. If you have been injured during a holiday celebration due to someone else’s carelessness, you have a right to seek fair compensation for your injuries. The personal injury experts at Cameron & Russell can help. Give us a call at 505-218-7844 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.