For most people, putting up Christmas lights and decorating the tree evokes thoughts of family, fun, and beauty. But there is a darker side to these annual festivities. Each year, thousands of people are injured in accidents associated with holiday decorating. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 15,000 people were taken to the emergency room after decorating accidents in November and December of 2012. The CPSC expects that number to rise this year.
The most common holiday injuries result from falls from ladders or other heights, followed by lacerations and back strains. Fires are also a common occurrence during the holidays, with the Christmas tree often being the first item to go up in flames. Each year, many people die in fires caused by dry trees, Christmas lights, or candles.
Precautions to Prevent Injuries
Among other things, the CPSC recommends the following precautions to avoid accidents during the holiday season:
1. Read the warning labels on ladders and follow their instructions.
2. Buy a fresh tree that is not dried out and place it in a location far away from heat sources. If you are decorating the tree in a house with small children, make sure the decorations are not hazardous to children.
3. Place lit candles on a flat, heat-resistant surface, and always keep them within sight.
4. Only buy lights that have been tested for safety by a nationally recognized laboratory. Check lights, wires, and cords for signs of broken sockets, loose connections, or fraying.
5. Do not burn gift paper in the fireplace.
These safety precautions are important not only to protect you and your family, but also to avoid potential liability. If you are negligent in decorating your home, and someone is injured because of your negligence, you could be liable in court for their injuries. This could apply to guests in your home, your minor children, and even trespassers. Being cautious and responsible will not only protect your body, but also your pocketbook.
Legal Action after Injury
In the event that you are injured in a holiday decoration accident, and it is not your fault, there are various claims you may be able to pursue. If the ladder, Christmas lights, ornaments, or other holiday items are in some way defective, you may be able to bring a product liability claim against the company that manufactures the product. You may also have a negligence claim against the store where you bought the product, if they sold you a defective product. If the product does not contain warnings of certain dangers, and that omission leads to your injury, you may have a negligence claim against the manufacturer.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a holiday decorating accident, and you feel that you are not at fault, you should contact a personal injury or product liability attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.