Douglas V. Stoehr, Attorney at Law
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Oh, Labor Day! A time for parties, fun with family and friends, and saying a last official "goodbye" to summer.  Many of these get-togethers include time spent outside, such as on porches, lawns, and decks.  Unfortunately, sometimes these parties lead to unforeseen accidents, such as collapsing decks and/or people falling off of elevated spaces.  These accidents can have severe and life-changing consequences, such as broken bones, organ damage, and death.  How can you keep family and friends safe on your deck while you celebrate outside? Take a look at some of these tips:

  • Decks need to be well maintained and inspected by a professional.  
  • Check your deck once a year (such as every spring once winter is finished) and promptly make any needed repairs.  
  • Make sure to look for signs of age and wear and tear, such as rotting boards and rusted hinges. Railing and stairs are especially important to keep an eye on!
  • You may want to consider getting an official deck inspection.  


In talking about holiday parties and premises liability, there is a lot to think about!  When throwing a party or inviting friends over, most people are concerned with cleaning their homes, preparing the food, and making sure that there's enough to drink.  Although these things are important, it is also important to remember that, as hosts, it is also your duty as a homeowner to make sure your house is a safe and stable structure.  Unsafe decks that cause an accident for your party guests may lead to a lawsuit for you.


You are also responsible for what your guests ingest at your party.  Many hosts believe that, if their guests are 21 or older, they should be able to consume as much alcohol as they want without hosts having to monitor them.  This is a common misconception.  If a party attendee leaves the party drunk and causes injury or accident to themselves or another person, the hosts are partially responsible for the injuries.  This is true not only at a home-based party, but also at such public gatherings as graduation parties, wedding receptions, and other celebrations.


As a host, it is important to monitor your attendee's level of drinking and make sure that they are not over-imbibing.  If they do become intoxicated, it is your responsibility to find them a designated driver or call them a taxi. If you choose not to do this, you could face very serious legal ramifications later on if accident, injury, or police involvement occurs.  Be smart when both hosting and attending a party.


Attorney Doug Stoehr is a personal injury lawyer serving western and central Pennsylvania.  For more information on his firm or to talk about your potential legal claim, please call his office at 814-946-4100.  

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