Premises Liability and Halloween

by Staff Blogger | October 28th, 2019

Halloween is around the corner, and residents of California, like those elsewhere, love to celebrate the holiday with thrills, chills, haunted houses, and of course, trick-or-treating. But as they say, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. That’s the kind of scary no one wants on Halloween. So what happens if you are injured while participating in a Halloween activity?

Assumption of Risk

When you enter a haunted house, you take on an assumption of risk. For example, anyone going to a haunted house can reasonably assume it’s going to be scary. In fact, you pay to be scared! So if you suffer a panic attack or heart attack from fear, or twist your ankle running away from a haunted house actor, you likely don’t have legal grounds to sue. However, frights are not the only way to get injured at a haunted house. Most haunted houses will require visitors to sign a waiver before entering or may include an implicit waiver on the back of the ticket. However, this doesn’t mean you have no recourse after an injury. If you were injured due to grossly negligent actions on the part of the haunted house operator, you can sue even if you signed a waiver.

Haunted House Injuries

Haunted houses are dark, oftentimes hastily constructed, and full of props and equipment that can cause injury. Visitors may trip over extension cords, injure themselves on exposed nails or broken guardrails, be hit by falling props, receive injuries from overaggressive cast members, risk being trampled by frightened groups of people, or even suffer carbon monoxide poisoning from artificial fog and insufficient ventilation. Haunted house operators who fail to adhere to safety codes, are non-ADA compliant, or fail to warn about potential risks such as strobe lights or uneven surfaces may be liable for injuries suffered as a result.

Injured at a Haunted House?

Most haunted houses carry liability insurance in case a guest is injured at the attraction. 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.
  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. Speak with a manager, and request to file an incident report.
  3. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  4. Seek medical attention and inform the medical staff how you received the injury.
  5. Contact a personal injury lawyer. Consulting an attorney is always free at Berg Injury Lawyers.

Making Your Home Safe for Trick-or-Treaters

Premises liability goes two ways. It doesn’t only apply to a commercial property owner’s responsibility to keep paying customers safe, but also to homeowners’ responsibility to keep guests safe; that includes trick-or-treaters. To prevent injuries at your home this Halloween, follow these tips:
  • Ensure your homeowner or renters insurance is up to date. Most homeowner and renters insurance policies protect not only your belongings, but also provide personal liability protection if someone is injured in your home or on your property.
  • Clear your sidewalk, yard, and porch of leaves and any tripping hazards that may not be visible in the dark, such as hoses, extension cords, potted plants, or lawn decorations.
  • Ensure the outside of your home is well-lit.
  • Firmly secure decorations to ensure they can’t fall over and avoid decorations that pop up or jump out and risk startling visitors into tripping and injuring themselves.
  • Restrain any pets that may leap on, scratch, or accidentally bite a trick-or-treater.
  • Avoid fire hazards by replacing the typical tea candle in your jack-o-lantern with a flameless LED version.

Halloween Activity Safety Tips

Whether your plan to spend October 31st trick-or-treating with your kids or enjoying fun scares as you make your way through a haunted house, there are several important safety tips you should keep in mind that are useful in either situation.
  • Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes with good traction.
  • Choose costumes made of non-flammable material.
  • Avoid masks that limit your vision or ability to breathe.
  • Consider including reflective material in your costume or adding reflective tape to your candy bucket to make yourself more visible in the dark.
  • Inspect candy before eating and throw away any candy if the wrapper appears tampered with.
  • Closely monitor any children in your group.
  • Arrive to any activity sober and free of drugs and alcohol.
  • Follow all posted safety rules at any attraction you visit.
  • Stay in a group, follow clearly marked paths, and cross streets only at crosswalks.
  • Be conscious of your own limits and avoid activities that may aggravate a pre-existing medical condition.
From all of us at Berg 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.