Premises Liability Law in South Carolina: What Homeowners Need to Know for Halloween

Attention homeowners! Halloween is a fun time for everyone, but it’s important to be aware of your premises liability risks that may exist at your home. If a trick-or-treater is injured on your property, you could be held liable for their injuries.

Premises liability law in South Carolina

Premises liability law is a legal concept that holds property owners responsible for injuries sustained by visitors on their property. In South Carolina, premises liability law is based on the common law, which is a body of law that has developed over time through court decisions.

The specific duty of care that a property owner owes to a visitor depends on the status of the visitor. There are three categories of visitors:

  • Invitees: Invitees are people who are invited onto a property for the benefit of the property owner. This includes customers at a store, guests at a home, and trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care.
  • Licensees: Licensees are people who are permitted to enter a property for their own benefit. This includes social guests, delivery people, and people who are using a property with the owner’s permission. Licensees are owed a lower duty of care than invitees.
  • Trespassers: Trespassers are people who enter a property without permission. Property owners generally owe no duty of care to trespassers.


Premises liability claims: The burden of proof

To succeed in a premises liability claim, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:

  • The property owner owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
  • The property owner breached that duty of care.
  • The breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of their injuries.


Premises liability claims for Halloween trick-or-treaters

Trick-or-treaters are considered invitees on Halloween night. This means that homeowners owe trick-or-treaters the highest duty of care. This duty of care includes the following:

  • Inspecting the property for any dangerous conditions, such as loose steps, uneven walkways, or trip hazards.
  • Repairing any dangerous conditions that are discovered.
  • Warning trick-or-treaters of any dangerous conditions that cannot be repaired.
  • Providing adequate lighting for the property.

Homeowners who fail to meet this duty of care and a trick-or-treater is injured as a result may be held liable for the trick-or-treater’s injuries.


How to reduce the risk of premises liability claims on Halloween

Homeowners can reduce the risk of premises liability claims on Halloween by taking the following steps:

  • Inspect the property for any dangerous conditions and repair them before Halloween night.
  • Make sure that all walkways are well-lit and free of trip hazards.
  • Remove any decorations that could pose a danger to trick-or-treaters, such as low-hanging branches or pumpkins with sharp edges.
  • Put away any lawn ornaments or other objects that could be tripped over.
  • Supervise children who are trick-or-treating on the property.
  • Consider purchasing homeowner’s insurance with liability coverage.


Additional tips for homeowners opening their houses to trick or treaters:

  • Keep pets inside or in a secure area away from trick-or-treaters.
  • Serve food and drinks that are safe for children, such as individually wrapped candy and bottled drinks.
  • Avoid serving alcoholic beverages to trick-or-treaters’ parents.
  • Be aware of any allergies that trick-or-treaters may have.
  • Be welcoming and friendly to trick-or-treaters and create a fun and safe environment for them.


By following these tips, homeowners can help to ensure that trick-or-treaters have a safe and enjoyable Halloween experience on their property.

About Christian Stegmaier
Senior Shareholder

Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. He is also active in the firm’s professional liability and appellate practices. Stegmaier welcomes your questions at (803) 255-0454 or