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Holiday decorations can present dangers for customers, employees

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Now that the holiday season is in full swing, you’ll notice that many places of business go all out with their decorations. These places of business have a responsibility to ensure that the decorations don’t present a danger to employees or customers.

Halloween decorations can present particular risks because they can be startling to some people. Businesses should avoid decorations where ghosts and goblins can pop out at people unexpectedly. While many people may consider it good fun, if people are so frightened or surprised that they fall and injure themselves, they could be able to file a premises liability suit.

Thanksgiving decorations generally present less danger than those displayed for Halloween. However, businesses still have an obligation to make sure that they aren’t blocking any exits or creating tripping hazards.

Many businesses go all out for Christmas. This can involve a lot of lights, which can create a danger of electrocution of not wired properly. Christmas trees can fall on people if not properly secured. Of course, presents, manger scenes and anything on the floor can present a tripping hazard.

Although it’s likely not grounds for a premises liability lawsuit to display something offensive, it’s still important not to have employees dress up in ways that might be offensive to customers (or other employees). It’s important for business owners to be sensitive to people of all cultures and religions when celebrating the holidays. New Yorkers are a wonderfully diverse group of people, so respecting everyone’s beliefs (or at least not insulting them) is simply smart business.

If you are injured due to a holiday decoration that created a hazard, it’s important to know what your legal rights are. You may be able to hold the business liable for your medical bills and other damages.

Source: Diagnostic Imaging, “How Halloween and the Election Threaten a Doctor’s Assets,” Ike Devji, JD, accessed Nov. 03, 2016

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.