October is the month for pumpkin-spice-flavored everything—and of course—haunted houses. While ghosts and ghouls may be fake, injuries during a haunted a house visit are all too real. And simply because you choose to enter a haunted a house, or do so after signing some disclaimer, does not mean you’re barred from seeking compensation for your injuries.
Earlier this month, a lawsuit filed in the state of Michigan for injuries sustained during a haunted house visit was settled for $125,000. Sherri Turner filed a lawsuit in October 2015 against Erebus Haunted Attractions, Erebus Entertainment, Erebus House and Edward Terebus. In the original complaint, Turner said she was injured at the haunted house on October 28, 2014 when she encountered “a moving wall that knocked her down on a poorly lit floor/aisleway which was in a dark, unlit location on the premises with inadequate lighting.” As a result, Turner suffered severe fractures to her left leg, a soft tissue injury to her back and spine, among other injuries. Ms. Turner was able to recover from Erebus Haunted House despite their website detailing that a disclaimer and release statement accompanies every ticket purchased for the haunted house.
Potential Haunted House Hazards
If you are injured in a haunted house and the company claims you are unable to seek recovery for injuries, it is important to understand releases and disclaimers only protect the company from so much. Yes, people who enter a haunted house are generally looking for a thrill. But this choice does not expose them to the unfettered actions or inadequacies of the host house. Most haunted houses are for-profit businesses, and as such, they owe their visitors the highest duty of care to ensure their safety. To achieve this safety, the business has to be reasonably safe and patrons have to be adequately warned if there are any condition that are not safe. While most haunted houses are safe, there are a plethora of potential haunted house hazards that include:
- Unsafe Walkways
Haunted houses are almost always erected in a temporary location. This means the site may be built on an area that was not originally intended for people to navigate across. This poses potential hazards such as uneven flooring, defective stairways or flooring not adequately prepared to handle debris or liquids.
- Dangerous Props
Haunted houses include numerous props that can create unreasonable hazards. Props are usually put together quickly and are only meant to be temporary. This means the props may be assembled incorrectly or inadequately, exposing patrons to hazards like screws, nails or a malfunction. Haunted houses also feature props like fog which may create a slipping hazard on flooring improperly prepared for the event.
- Improperly Trained Staff
Haunted house staff are often either volunteers or are working under temporary employment. This means they often lack training or other oversight that would normally allow an employee to know how to handle dangerous or unforeseen safety situations. A lack of training may also lead to a haunted house employee taking their role too far which could lead to injuries.
Minors Cannot Release their Rights
It is also important to note that in most cases, a minor cannot legally release his or her rights; only a minor’s parent or guardian can do so. This means that a release signed only by the minor may not be enforceable. Also, to be enforceable, releases usually need to have clear language that is easy to understand and the print cannot be a size that requires something like a magnifying glass to read. In addition, a release generally must be signed before any injuries occur.
Haunted houses are supposed to scare you into having a good time. But this good time can turn into a bad situation if you are injured. It is important to remember that simply because you entered haunted house or signed a disclaimer before doing so, you did not subject yourself to unsafe conditions or improperly trained staff. If you or a loved one were injured while visiting a haunted house, do not be afraid to contact the attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in one of the following ways:
- Call Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at (727) 451-6900
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