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I have replaced the mailbox across the street in each of the last 2 seasons.  No lawsuits, but a VERY angry neighbor.  I suspect as soon as I start putting up lights (1 Nov), he'll start complaining, and when the lights go on (29 Nov), I'm guessing he'll find a way to mess up the show.  I almost was perswided to skip this year, but.... :cool:

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It is my understanding (brother-in-law is a lawyer and cousin is my insurance man) that if an accident happens or someone takes out a mailbox, and that person comes after you; your liability on the homeowners should pick it up. It would be very difficult for the lawyer to prove that the person was not negligent. Why did you put your car in drive while still looking at the lights?.....

 

or something like that.....engineer here, not a lawyer or insurance guy so my understanding/explanation may be a little off.  Again NOT A LAWYER OR IN INSURANCE, if you are that concerned call your insurance rep, they are more than happy to talk to you most of the time

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I worry about this, more so on Halloween than Christmas because we get a few hundred people in a few hours. I put up caution tape for that. I try not to think of anything bad happening. As far as I'm aware, if someone gets hurt on your property, not on the street in front of, they could sue, but they might have a slim chance of wining.

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You guys jogged my memory there.  I believe that I have heard of people getting a rider on their insurance policy to protect against such things.  Sweikel, is that what they were trying to sell you for $2000!?  If so that is pretty outrageous and probably out of reach for most of us.

 

TED

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Hi.  Just a quick question that I've always wondered about.  I have a really busy display and often wonder when I see other crazy displays if someone were to have an accident driving by a house, would the owner be liable if the person were to sue?

 

Would the owner be liable to the person operating the car?  Highly unlikely, though it's a difficult answer to try to explain.  The driver of the car has the ultimate responsibility to operate their vehicle in a safe manner.  Without getting into individual state laws regarding comparative or contributory negligence, it would be extremely difficult to prove that the owner of the display was more negligent then the operator of the vehicle.  

 

Expanding the question, could the owner of the display be liable for damage to a third party who was non-contributory to the accident? - the owner of a mailbox for example.  This is also governed by state laws as they pertain to joint and several liability but the short answer is yes.  The damages to the non-contributory third party would be shared by those who did contribute to the accident.  Some states assign a percentage based on percentage of negligence.  Other states simply divide the damages by all parties who were culpable and everyone contributes the same same amount.

 

What about an umbrella policy as was suggested?  With some very narrow exceptions, the umbrella policy provides coverage over the underlying policy.  So your homeowners policy would act as the primary insurance.  The umbrella policy would provide an additional amount of insurance should the limits of the homeowners policy be exhausted.  If the loss was not covered by the homeowners policy, the umbrella would also likely not provide any coverage.

 

The other issue that was brought up in the replies was that of premises liability for guests walking through your displays.  This one is even trickier and also based on state laws regarding the elements of negligence (duty owed, duty breached, proximate cause, and damages).  It is a fairly safe assumption that you could and would probably be held negligent for injuries in your front yard.  Particularly for children.  If you derive income (note I didn't say profit) from your display, you could very well trigger the "Business Use" exclusion on your homeowners policy and you could be without coverage.  Your homeowners policy has a medical payment benefit that would response first.  Then your liability coverage would kick in if you were negligent (again according to your state laws).  Regardless of negligence your insurance policy will still defend you in the event a suit is filed.  As for the umbrella in case like this?  No different then I explained earlier.  The umbrella will give you a higher coverage limit.  

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With this information i need to consider closing my show.

consider, yes... close show, no... take the risk, or minimize the risk to you.. by limiting the traffic possibly... I would not think this would be much different than a mailman walking across your lawn, or family walking up a drive way to visit you.. The same risk applies, its just that the realization of this risk is higher (possibility of it happening).. 

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In their vehicle? - it's on them. They would/should receive a distracted driving ticket.

In my yard? Sue me for bringing Joy to the World with my show?

I'd have to find a ruthless lawyer to counter sue for destroying my private property.

In the meantime - I'm gonna Light 'em Up.

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consider, yes... close show, no... take the risk, or minimize the risk to you.. by limiting the traffic possibly... I would not think this would be much different than a mailman walking across your lawn, or family walking up a drive way to visit you.. The same risk applies, its just that the realization of this risk is higher (possibility of it happening).. 

 

There was some subtle kidding in there SideTrack.  I also posted above about the umbrella.  My point is that  for 10 years I allowed many 100s of complete strangers into my home with no additional event insurance costs. The umbrella is in force all the time.   My insurance agent insisted that as long as I did not charge and any donations were voluntary and 100% to the charity, then it was no different than throwing a party and I would be covered to the limits of my policy. 

 

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I'll probably regret outing myself, but I am a lawyer, and will make some general remarks. DISCLAIMER: the following is a personal opinion and should not be considered as personal legal advice. Should you have the need, please seek counsel of a local attorney. My opinion, anything in the street or on sidewalks is in the public domain and you should have no liability for any persons accident or actions. On your property homeowner's insurance can help cover but policy limits may be low. Minimum medical liability in TX policies is $2500. There is also the "attractive nuisance" doctrine that holds you to a higher standard like a business that invites people on their premises. In that case you have a duty to make certain that areas where people are allowed are safe. That said, anyone with the filing fee can sue you. Whether they can prevail in court is another question.

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TY emcee.. I suspected we had at least one lawyer lurking amongst our midst... Won't hold it against you.. My display does not allow you to walk through it, but my postman tries to all the time... instead of going around the display.. while he is talking on his phone, texting someone... I have waited for him to trip... I attempt to make it so he can't go through the display for safety sake... that and he might destroy something.. but that could be replaced.. his injury would be worse probably.. 

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We have all had Postal/UPS/FedEx folks take the short cut through our lawns.  I line the front and side with my mini trees as well as with strings of lights about 3-4 ft off the ground.  Makes it hard to walk though or over.  I'm guessing any injury one incurs after jumping over all of that would easily put the blame back on them.

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If you live in the United States, then the simple answer is "Yes, you can be sued over it and be potentially found liable.  This is the United States, where anyone can sue over anything at anytime they wish."

 

Torqumada

 

It is unforntunate, but this is what lawyers have done to this country.  It is always someone elses fault but their client's.  Never mind personal responsibility and shaking it off cause you aren't hurt.. or you shouldn't have been there in the first place... it is "lets sue and get money"....  it is a sad state of the system in the USA..

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