November is the start of many things in Arizona ― cooler temperatures, the holidays and a significant number of charitable events. Unfortunately, amidst these festivities, homeowners and business owners face potential premises liability issues when hosting events at their homes or place of business.

Residential and commercial property owners and renters face similar issues. Premises liability claims may arise anywhere where a person or entity owns or possesses the property, including: private homes and apartments, shopping malls and retail stores, restaurants and bars, offices and office buildings, parking lots and more. The most common premises liability actions result from slip and fall accidents, sidewalk defects, falling objects, unfenced swimming pools and dog bites.

When hosting holiday gatherings or charity events at your property, it is important to take safety into account.

For residential property owners and renters in Arizona, the pool is easily your biggest hazard and liability. Cooler weather means more outdoor gatherings, so it is vital to have a gate, fence or a safety cover for your pool. By law, pools must be maintained to ensure the safety of guests.

It is important to remember:
  • Never allow children in the pool area without the supervision of an adult.
  • Utilize flotation devices; in the case that someone does fall in, it is important to have one nearby.
  • Remove any broken tiles or concrete. Stumbling or stepping on these almost always results in injury.
  • No glass containers in or around the pool. Broken glass is difficult to see around the pool and sinks to the bottom, making it a hazard to not only those that may fall in, but swimmers as well.

Commercial owners and renters are also at risk for injuries and accidents resulting from a pool, but should be aware of potential slip and fall injuries. Slick tile is difficult for guests to walk with dress shoes that lack good traction. Additionally, spills should not be left unattended; a cone or other warning sign should be placed around the spill to warn guests. Pleated carpeting is a potential hazard for young children running around the premises. Find a non-slick adhesive or rubber bottom for rugs and carpeting that is not permanently installed onto the floor.

For both residential and commercial property owners, some things to remember, especially this holiday and charity season include:
  • Make sure your homeowner’s coverage has a medical payments rider. Often, claimants will go away without going to a lawyer if their medical bill is paid. The medical payments rider is usually a $2,000-$5,000 policy that will pay regardless of fault.
  • Make sure you warn guests of any obvious defects, such as construction or renovations. Warning guests before they obtain an injury from your property will defeat any argument by the victim that there was a dangerous situation.
  • If a guest suffers from a fall, ask for a description of what happened and take pictures. There are many cases in which home and property owners forget to take pictures of accidents right after they happen. This can be detrimental to their case.
  • Survey the property if you or children have tripped on something in the past. If it has happened to you, chances are it is a hazard and should be repaired before any events with guests.
  • Alcohol consumption under 21 years of age is illegal. Be careful having a bar when people under the age of 21 are in attendance. The homeowner is responsible for any accidents that occur due to underage drinking.
It is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their guests. Continued upkeep and maintenance will protect a property owner from facing premise liability charges. Stay safe and protect yourself and your business this season!

For more information about premises liability this holiday season, visit Friedl Richardson Trial Lawyers’s website at