3 (more) tips to avoid a backyard premises liability case

Kids, dogs, pools — what are your backyard hazards?

Hey, homeowner! Is your yard or property a breeding ground for a premises liability case or a personal injury case? Good question, right?! With spring just around the corner,  it’s time to make a to-do list.

Those that you invite on your property are your responsibility in a sense. You are responsible to protect them from known dangers and dangers that an ordinary inspection would reveal. Even uninvited guests, like child trespassers, pose a worrisome legal liability.

Most of the time we think of slip-and-fall accidents when we worry about getting sued in a premises liability case or a personal injury case. Living on a corner lot in town, we get a lot of foot traffic.  The sidewalks around my house are our responsibility.

Our town grants us 48 hours to get our sidewalks cleared. However, our sidewalks get cleared of snow and ice quickly! Then they get treated with ice-melt. The sidewalks are a long, narrow skating rink otherwise.

However, a few years back, the town decided to come in and redo the sidewalks. They also installed a handicapped accessible crosswalk on our corner.

Unfortunately the design engineers did not correctly account for the drainage on our street. Since then, the handicapped crosswalk section always floods in wet weather. In freezing temperatures the small pond turns into a sheet of ice. The “pond” is almost impossible to keep clear under those conditions.

Who would be responsible for a slip-and-fall on the section of sidewalk turned nightmare? It’s a question that bothers me every winter. What are your yard hazards?

1.) Sidewalk maintenance helps prevent slip-and-fall accidents.

Town rules differ. You’ll need to check with your town office or your neighborhood homeowner’s association as to your responsibilities.  Waiting until an accident occurs is not good game plan.  Clearly, cracked, uneven, or broken sidewalks are a slip-and-fall hazard.  The same goes for driveways.

2.) Remove tree and yard debris.

Interestingly factoid —  New York City is a prime place to get injured by a falling tree.  More than 2.5 million trees line New York’s parks and city streets!

What about your home and yard? Missouri weather is not a friend to trees!  Between the high winds, snow, ice, and maybe even a tornado, your trees get battered.

The Missouri Department of Conservation publishes a helpful guide to cleaning up damaged trees after storms. The MDC recommends hiring an arborist if you have trees you are unsure about saving.

If you have kids, especially, those downed tree limbs are a kid-magnet. War, fort building, limb-launching — you name it, they’ll do it. So if the neighbor’s kids gravitate toward your yard,  ward off a premises liability claim by removing temptation!

3.) Use a fence and “no trespassing” signs if your yard contains a pool or a dog.

Fido may be all bark and no bite, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. “Beware of the guard dog.” and “no trespassing” signs are preventative measures.

Since pools are “attractive nuisances” for child trespassers, secure fencing and a sign are a must. Although neither of these can totally prevent an accidental drowning,  good fences make good neighbors. Our youngest neighbors deserve our best protection.

If you’re getting your yard ready for spring and summer fun, here’s another article on backyard safety for you from your friends at The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC

BONUS TIP: Hide your grill behind that secure fencing, too. You never know when a child chef wanna-be might try out your grill.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries due to someone else’s unsafe property conditions, you need professional legal help.  Call 636-244-3737 for free initial consultation with Nathan A. Steimel, an experienced personal injury lawyer serving the greater St. Louis area.

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.


Keep your hunting safe and legal

trespassing laws in MO
Safe hunting!

Long before children knew and loved the story of Bambi, his ancestors helped to save the lives of our Founding Fathers. 

That’s right! Without deer meat, the Plymouth Colony may not have survived their first few harsh New England winters. In fact, in 1621  Indian Chief Massasoit brought 90 men to the first Thanksgiving feast! In order to feed them, they provided 5 deer with their hunting skills. No licenses, no hunter safety classes — it was open season all winter long.

Times have changed! If you’re  bringing home the venison for Thanksgiving this year,  you’ll need to have your “ducks in a row”.

Let’s start with the legal part.  The main crime hunters commit is trespassing on private property. What about a Class B misdemeanor on your record?  If the judge decides against you,  you could face jail time!  Your family would miss you and your venison on Thanksgiving Day.

Then, imagine how losing your hunting license  for a year and forking out some hard earned dollars in fines would further dampen your grateful spirit!  That’s the penalty for trespassing while hunting.

Trespassing truth — even if you shoot your deer on legal ground, you can’t retrieve your kill if the deer runs a few feet and dies on someone else’s property.  Maybe diplomacy will help.   Contact the property owner.  There’s a nice chance they’d rather not deal with disposing of the carcass themselves.  Hopefully, they will also appreciate the fact that you didn’t choose to trespass on their property.

If that fails, well, you’ll just have to keep hunting!

Keep your eyes peeled for purple paint! Purple paint markers or “no trespassing signs” are the responsibility of the property owner. It’s their job to let you know their property’s boundaries, according to the  Missouri Department of Conservation.


Gun safety is a given.  if you’re a licensed hunter, you already know the rules, right?

Still, accidents happen to the best of us. The worst kind of accident involves not just injuring yourself — but injuring someone else, also!

Someone I know decided to fake target practice in his bedroom mirror. Said mirror shattered since the supposedly unloaded gun had a bullet left inside. Thankfully, no one was hurt!   Just a youthful mistake could have caused serious injury or death.

What Dad said is still true. Guns are not toys! 

So keep an eye on the kid who is enamored with your hunting gear and weapons.  Teach them early the basic gun safety rules.

  • Check your unloaded weapon to make sure it is in good working order.
  • Never point a gun at a peaceful person, even if it’s not loaded.
  • Keep your trigger-happy finger OFF the trigger until time to shoot.
  • Don’t climb trees or run with a loaded gun (unless you’re GI Joe).

if you are involved in a hunting accident,  don’t add a Class A misdemeanor to your misery!

Here’s how to stay out of jail  and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner (maybe even venison roast) with your family, courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“If you are involved in a firearms-related hunting accident, the law requires that you identify yourself and render assistance. Failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.”  ( https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov)

If you are in need of legal defense due to a hunting accident or trespassing charges,  The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC will give you a free initial consultation.  http://steimel-law.com/

Attorney Steimel knows your rights and is well-versed in Missouri laws.   Call for help today!  636-244-3737

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.