Have Yourself a Merry Little…Lawsuit?

Hosting a holiday party can be a wonderful experience. But no one wants to host a party and have an accident or injury occur from a simple oversight. So how can you host a holiday bash and ensure everyone enjoys themselves and arrives home safely? Here are a few tips to make your holiday parties safer.

Light it up

While we all appreciate the warm glow from candles and festive holiday lights, a dimly lit home can contribute to injuries. Especially as we age, our vision is often less acute at night and in dimly lit areas. Providing your guests with clear ambient and direct lighting both indoors and outdoors can help reduce falls. Start by lighting your exterior so that guests arrive in a warm glow of light.

If guests must access stairs, make sure stairways remain lit at all times. Additionally, night-lights throughout the hallways and in accessible bathrooms can illuminate the way and reduce falls. Don’t rely solely on holiday stringed lights to provide enough lighting.

Trip hazards contribute to big-ticket injuries

Make sure no trip hazards greet your arriving guests. Before the big event, remove toys, yard tools and other items that could pose an exterior trip hazard.

Scout your house for any fall hazards. Remove rugs that might pose a hazard and illuminate or remind guests of areas that may be problematic. For example, changes in elevation may pose a challenge for the unsuspecting guest, so placing brightly colored duct tape at those spots may prevent a fall. Remember too, that guests with disabilities or the elderly using walkers or other assistive devices require special care. Even if those with limited mobility arrive with a caregiver, ask one of your relatives or guests to act as a spotter so the caregiver can enjoy the party and receive some respite.

Falls involving tables and chairs can be deadly

Whether you are renting or using your own chairs and tables for the occasion, take a moment to be sure they are in good shape. Rickety chairs or seats set on uneven surfaces injured approximately half a million people in the US in 2007. Tables, too, should be sturdy since people often lean on them for assistance in rising. Keep your guests safe by taking a few extra minutes to check chair and table stability.

Keep your valuables safe

While we know that people we invite into our homes would never steal, we can’t always control our guests’ tagalongs. Restrict access to bedrooms, offices and areas where guests do not belong. If you have unworn jewelry, place pieces in a safe or your safety deposit box for the big event. It is a terrible feeling to lose a valuable ring or irreplaceable heirloom piece and not know whom to suspect. Avoid this problem by keeping close control over who enters your private rooms.

Holiday candy is dandy but liquor is quicker

Liquor liability arises when hosts serve alcohol to minors or allow an impaired guest to drive home. If you plan to serve alcohol, take these steps to help reduce alcohol-related liability.

  • Do not serve minors, even though it is a special occasion.
  • Do not serve anyone who appears impaired. Remember that the amount of alcohol a person drinks before they are impaired varies greatly by body weight and person. If someone appears impaired, stop serving that person.
  • If your party is big enough, consider hiring a professional bartender and ask for proof of insurance coverage. Bartenders receive special training to recognize signs of impairment.
  • Where you serve alcohol, tempers can flare and fights can occur. Keep the hotheads separated. Don’t be afraid to ask rowdy guests to behave or leave, with a designated driver, of course.
  • Stop serving drinks at least an hour before the party closes. Serve food and allow those who imbibed time to recover before heading home.
  • Make sure no one gets behind the wheel impaired. Keep extra blankets on hand and invite over-imbibing guests to stay the night or arrange their transportation home.

Before your party, call your agent to discuss liquor liability coverage and your limits in case something goes wrong. If your party is large enough, consider a special events policy to protect yourself in case something does go terribly wrong.

No one wants to feel responsible for a holiday injury or death. Nor do you want to endure the stress of a claim or lawsuit resulting from your holiday party.

Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.