What Halloween Means for Premises Liability

October 28th, 2019

October is the month when witches and ghouls come out to play, but for all who love a scary good time, an injury is exactly the wrong kind of scare when you want to have fun. Unfortunately, people are injured at Halloween attractions and while out trick-or-treating every year. So how you can prevent it, and what can you do if it happens to you?

Assumption of Risk

Whenever someone enters a haunted house, they take on “assumed risk.” Assumption of risk is a legal term meaning a plaintiff can’t sue for damages if they willingly exposed themselves to a danger they knew about. In the case of haunted houses, where people go to be scared, this means you can’t sue for “fear-based injuries” such as panic attacks or heart attacks. Likewise, you may have difficulty getting compensation if you trip and fall while running away from a haunted house actor because they scared you.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get compensation at all if you are injured in a haunted house. If your injuries were caused by a hazard that the average person would not reasonably expect to find in a haunted house, the haunted house operator may still be found negligent and liable for your injuries, even if you signed a waiver before entering.

Haunted House Injuries

Haunted houses aren’t open year-round, which means they are often hastily constructed, and though they are legally required to meet building safety codes, ADA compliance laws, and fire code regulations, many do not. Visitors to haunted houses can be injured by weak walls and uneven floors, exposed nails or extension cords, missing or broken guardrails, poor lighting, and lack of clearly marked exits. Because many haunted houses also use artificial fog, visitors may be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if the venue does not have sufficient ventilation.

Other risks may include:

  • Trampling
  • Overaggressive cast members
  • Tripping over props
  • Being struck by falling props
  • Seizures caused by strobing lights

When haunted house operators expose visitors to risks outside of what they agreed to when they entered, or fail to warn visitors about all potential risks, they may be liable for any injuries that may occur.

What to Do If You’re Injured at a Haunted House

Most Halloween attractions carry liability insurance to cover the medical costs of any guests who are injured on the property. However, insurance companies will often fight injury claims by arguing the injury falls under the assumed risk. To protect your rights to compensation, follow these steps: 

  1. Take pictures of the dangerous conditions at the accident scene.
  2. Speak with a manager and get the names of any employees who may have witnessed the injury happen.
  3. File an incident report as soon as possible.
  4. Seek medical attention and inform the medical staff how you received the injury.
  5. Contact a personal injury lawyer. Your case review is always free at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers.

Make Your Home Safe for Trick-or-Treaters

Premises liability doesn’t only apply for business owners like haunted house operators. Homeowners can also be sued if someone slips and falls on their property. Protect yourself from an injury lawsuit this year by making your home safe for trick-or-treaters with these tips.

  • Make sure your homeowner or renters insurance is up to date and includes personal liability protection.
  • Clear your sidewalk and driveway of wet leaves that may cause visitors to slip.
  • Clear your yard and porch of tripping hazards such as extension cords, potted plants, hoses, toys, and other debris.
  • Secure porch railings and patch or clearly mark divots in your yard or sidewalk that may cause visitors to stumble.
  • Keep the outside of your home well-lit but replace any open flames with electric light (this includes replacing the candles in your jack-o-lantern with flameless LED candles).
  • Firmly secure Halloween decorations so they can’t tip over or blow away.
  • Avoid Halloween decorations that move, as they may badly startle a visitor into falling and injuring themselves.
  • Keep pets inside and away from the door when greeting trick-or-treaters.

Halloween Activity Safety Tips

Whether you plan to go trick-or-treating or are buying tickets for a haunted house this October 31st, make sure to always follow these safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe and free of injury.

  • Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes with good traction.
  • Avoid using flammable material in your costume.
  • Avoid masks that limit your vision or ability to breathe.
  • Consider including reflective material in your costume to make yourself more visible in the dark.
  • Inspect candy before opening and eating, and throw away any candy if the wrapper appears tampered with.
  • Closely monitor any children in your group.
  • Arrive to any activity free from the influence of drugs and alcohol.
  • Follow all posted safety rules at any attraction you visit.
  • Travel in a group.
  • Always follow clearly marked paths.
  • Be conscious of your own limits and avoid activities that may aggravate a pre-existing medical condition.

From all of us at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, we wish you a safe and happy Halloween! If you or a loved one suffered injuries while visiting a Halloween attraction, don’t hesitate to call our team.