Injured in a Haunted House Attraction?

Posted by Richard P. Hastings | Oct 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

Haunted House

BOO!

Spooky season is upon us, and haunted house attractions will likely be the highlight of the month for thrill-seekers looking for a scare. With more than 1200 haunted house locations across America, over 300 amusement facilities hosting haunted attractions or Halloween-centric events, and over 3000 charity attractions open during the week of Halloween, it is guaranteed that thousands of Americans will be flocking to these popular places. With attendance numbers between 40,000 to 60,000, it is clear that people are willing to pay for the aforementioned scare in a safe environment.

As we all know, it's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, and for a haunted house operator, the trick might be on them! Haunted houses are an appealing autumn activity, but they can also be a legal horror for owners, guests, and attorneys. Failing to ensure the safety of the attraction places the guest at risk of injury and the company behind it potentially liable. Unfortunately, in an attempt to exceed the limits of terror by transforming these establishments into frightening venues, some safety measures may be overlooked.

Risks to Guests

When safety measures are overlooked even in the slightest way, it can lead to accidents, and both patrons and workers can get injured. Possible injuries that guests can sustain from this are called catastrophic injuries and can range from a simple slip and fall accident to freak accidents that can result in serious injuries or worse... death. The following are risks that one can encounter at a Halloween haunted house:

  • Exposed screws, bolts, and other protrusions
  • Moving ride cars injuries
  • Falling props
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Scare tactics injuries
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning 
  • Trampling
  • Sexual assault

The Assumption of Risk

The process of obtaining financial compensation for a haunted house injury is different from other cases. If a guest visiting a haunted house attraction suffers an injury, it must be proven that this injury is the result of negligence on the part of the owner. This is because of the legal theory known as the assumption of risk. When you enter a haunted attraction, you essentially consent to be scared by people or objects in a dimly lit environment. As a result, owners and operators often escape liability by utilizing the defense that their guests have voluntarily entered the domain aware of the potential risks, leaving victims unable to receive compensation. 

Waivers

If asked to sign a waiver of liability before entering the premises, you have already expressed the assumption of risk. Haunted house operators evade lawsuits by requiring visitors to sign a release form or otherwise known as a waiver of liability. They can range from specific to broad, only containing general releases of liability of harm. It is important to remember that state laws hold operators and amusement establishments to an exorbitant duty of care where they're obligated to take reasonable steps to protect visitors from harm. They must take measures to protect visitors from unreasonably dangerous conditions that can result in an injury, and by that, the court pertains to a foreseeable risk of harm. When a foreseeable scenario leads to an injury, this means that the operator violated their duty of care. It is possible to be found negligent if an employee did something wrong or failed to take safety precautions. If this is proven, victims are entitled to damage compensation. 

Risks to Workers

Guests are not the only ones who tend to suffer from injuries in these kinds of attractions. Haunted house workers are also at risk. According to haunt actor and stunt performer Katie Murphy, injuries occur every day for Halloween event performers. Haunted house patrons that are frightened may react violently and harm the actor. Common injuries to haunted house staff include:

  • Assaults from patrons
  • Cleaver elbow
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Exposed screws, bolts, and other protrusion injuries
  • Falling props
  • Trampling
  • Haunted house throat (typically not a serious issue, but in some instances, long-term vocal cords damage can occur.)
  • Freak accidents

If you are an actor and you happen to suffer from these sorts of injuries, you are entitled to workers' compensation. Your work-related injury will allow eligibility to receive compensation for your suffering. 

Proving Negligence

Evidence is needed to prove your injury claim for the insurance company to pay you the compensation you deserve. The gathering of proof will add value to your case and should therefore start at the scene of your injury. Here are the things you should always do when you acquire an injury at this type of establishment:

  • Ask to see the manager or owner of the haunted house
  • Ask for a written incident report
  • Get witness statements
  • Request security camera footage 
  • Take photographs, videos, and audio
  • Gather medical records, bills, receipts, and lost wage verification

It is vital to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible so they can help determine whether you are eligible for a claim against the owners or operators of a haunted attraction. They will evaluate the specific facts of your case and may have their private investigator visit the scene of the accident. 

Here at Hastings, Cohan, & Walsh, our experienced Connecticut injury attorneys fight for you. Don't hesitate to reach out to discuss the details of your injury. Click here to contact us or call 203-438-7450 for a free consultation.

About the Author

Richard P. Hastings

Attorney Hastings concentrates his practice on personal injury and litigation. Devoted to helping those who have suffered some type of wrong, Richard P. Hastings concentrates his law practice on personal injury law.

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