Premises Liability and Halloween

by Staff | October 28th, 2019

Halloween is soon upon us, and all across Indiana and Illinois, people are celebrating the holiday with trips to pumpkin patches and haunted houses, all leading up to trick-or-treating on the big night. It’s lots of fun, but that stops the moment someone gets hurt. That’s the kind of scary no one wants on Halloween. So what happens if you are injured at a Halloween attraction?

Assumption of Risk

When you enter a haunted house or other “haunted” attraction such as a haunted corn maze or haunted trail, you take on an assumption of risk. In fact, many such attractions require you to sign a waiver or include a waiver printed on the ticket. So what does this mean? In this case, a haunted house is assumed to be scary, so you agree to take on the risk of being scared. But that means any injuries you get from being scared, whether that’s hitting your head on the ground after fainting, twisting an ankle running away from a costumed actor, or suffering a heart attack from fright, are usually not considered the fault of the haunted house operator.

However, this doesn’t mean you have no way to get compensation, no matter the injury. If you were injured due to negligent behavior on the part of the attraction operator, you can sue even if you signed a waiver.

Haunted House Injuries

Haunted houses that don’t adhere to fire code, building code, or ADA compliance laws, or that fail to warn visitors about potential risks or expose visitors to risks that can’t be assumed to occur in a haunted house may be liable for any injuries that occur as a result. Some examples include:

  • Visitors tripping over exposed extension cords or props left in the walking path
  • Uneven floors
  • Insufficient ventilation, lighting, or exits resulting in trampling or carbon monoxide poisoning from the artificial fog
  • Cutting oneself on exposed nails, broken set pieces, or sharp props
  • Overaggressive cast members

Injured at a Haunted House?

If you are injured at a haunted house or other Halloween attraction, there are several important steps to take that can improve your chances of getting compensation for your injuries, especially when the insurance company will likely try to argue your injuries fall under the assumed risk.

  1. Take pictures of the accident scene. These can be used to show how your injury occurred, i.e. poor lighting conditions or tripping hazards.
  2. Request an incident report be filed.
  3. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses, as well as the manager.
  4. Seek medical attention and inform the medical staff how you received the injury.
  5. Contact Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your claim.

Making Your Home Safe for Trick-or-Treaters

A property owner’s responsibility to their guests doesn’t only apply to commercial properties. It also applies to homeowners. Anyone who comes onto your property should be able to do so without fear of injury, even if you didn’t personally and explicitly invite them. A perfect example of this is trick-or-treaters. To prevent injuries at your home this Halloween, follow these tips:

  • Clear your sidewalk, lawn, and porch of leaves and any tripping hazards that may not be visible in the dark, such as hoses, extension cords, toys, or yard equipment.
  • Turn on all outside lights and replace any dead bulbs.
  • Firmly secure decorations to ensure they can’t fall over and avoid decorations that pop up or jump out, which may startle visitors into tripping and injuring themselves.
  • Keep pets inside and away from trick-or-treaters to prevent accidental bites, scratches, and jumping injuries.
  • Reduce fire hazards by replacing the typical tea candle in your jack-o-lantern with flameless LED versions.
  • If you don’t have it already, add personal liability protection to your homeowner/renters insurance policy.

Halloween Activity Safety Tips

Whether you and the kids plan to go out trick-or-treating, or you and your friends intend to spend the evening at a haunted house, make sure to follow these safety tips to prevent injuries.

  • 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.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol before arriving to any activity.
  • Follow all posted safety rules at any attraction you visit.
  • Stay 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 Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, 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.

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