Turkey Day legal hazards you’ll want to dodge

Crime, Safety

We all know Thanksgiving as a time for gratitude, visiting loved ones, eating like there’s no tomorrow—or even a day after tomorrow—and generally having a lot of fun. However, it can also be a time of familial conflict, food poisoning, accidents, and parties that cross over from raucous to reckless.

Of course, you want to have fun—but you also want to avoid a lawsuit when hosting your crazy family or wild friends at your home. Here are some considerations to take into account if you’re preparing the feast this year:

1) Pass the Pepto

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in six Americans (48 million) get food poisoning each year. That percentage can jump much higher when well-intentioned people who normally heat up a frozen pizza for dinner attempt to cook a 25-pound turkey and five sides. The last thing you want is your guests getting sick because you thought poultry didn’t really need to be cooked for six hours. If your guests fall ill from food you prepared, you could be liable. So, if you’re not sure about making a feast for an army of 25, call in the professionals and let them cook. You also pass along the liability.

2) Don’t ask your guests to be maze runners

Your property needs to be reasonably safe when people come to your home. If your decorations include a life-sized Pilgrim with a giant knife raised over a stuffed turkey, you better hope that knife doesn’t drop just as your litigious Aunt Fanny walks by. Seriously, check those holiday decorations and make sure your outside lights work, so that people can see where they’re going. And get the kids out there to pick up their toys and footballs, so everyone has a clear path to come inside and criticize dinner.

3) Underserving is a good thing

Alcohol and Thanksgiving go hand in hand, which is partly why Turkey Day has turned into the year’s deadliest holiday for driving. Make sure your guests don’t treat Thanksgiving at your home like a bachelor party, or you could be liable if something were to happen.

4) Turn it down

If all goes well and the adult beverages are really flowing, make sure the revelry doesn’t turn into a scene from Animal House. There are noise and decency laws you need to abide by, and your neighbors might be a little more inclined to dial the police when they’re trying to have a nice holiday and your guests are turning it up to eleven.

Enjoy the holiday, have fun, and be smart. If you’re not sure if you’re covered regarding any of these potential nightmares, check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, so you understand what you’re responsible for. And please follow the directions when cooking the bird.

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