Creepy music, dimly lit passages, and eerie décor set the stage for paying customers seeking to feel startled and scared in the classic Halloween-time haunted house. As costumed employees jump around corners and faux guillotines drop right in front of guests, people suffer premises-related injuries every year. In certain cases, haunted house owners bear responsibility for resulting injuries, and parents should take swift action to protect their children’s rights.
Types of Haunted House Injuries
Owners often lay out haunted houses in a way that disorients customers, creates sensations of unease, and directs the flow of traffic. If the owners and operators do not use extreme care during construction and employee training, they can create accident hazards and increase the overall risk of injury. Some of the most common types of haunted houses injuries include:
- Actor-caused accidents. In character, some haunted house employees take their roles too seriously. They may grab guests or run into them with force. These actions can cause a child or adult to fall backwards, into other customers, or into a safety hazard.
- Trampling incidents. In a particularly frightening moment, crowds may run together to get away from the startling image and knock down and/or trample unsuspecting children. Many reputable haunted houses limit the number of visitors allowed inside at one time to prevent these kinds of accidents.
- Unsafe premises incidents. Haunted house operators must use reasonable care when constructing and maintaining the venue for the season. Improper ventilation, poorly secured props, rides, and exposed construction materials can all contribute to preventable injuries onsite. These oversights can result in injuries including carbon monoxide poisoning, lacerations, burns, and broken limbs.
The causes of these incidents are outside a visitor’s control. They can happen despite a visitor’s individual safety precautions.
Scare Related vs. Premises Liability Related Injuries
Haunted house owners are liable for injuries that arise from onsite hazards and negligent actions. However, all haunted house visitors assume a certain amount of risk the moment they walk through the entrance. If your or your child’s injury resulted from normal, safe, and age-appropriate haunted house conditions, the courts will likely side with the haunted house. Anxiety attacks and other fear-related injuries will generally not stand up as fair personal injury arguments in court. The most common type of injury is slip and fall injuries.
The concept of assumption of risk will only protect a haunted house up to a point. You may want to discuss a scare related claim with a personal injury attorney before writing off legal action.
What to Do After a Haunted House Injury
Always make sure younger children visit haunted houses with appropriate adult supervision and that older children go in groups. As soon as you learn of the injury, take these steps:
- Gather information. If you weren’t present at the time of injury, visit the area where your child was injured and take pictures. If you were with your child at the time of the incident, take pictures/video and ask people nearby for their account of what happened, while collecting names/contact information.
- Report the injury to the haunted house manager or owner. Ask to file an incident report as soon as possible, and record the names of employees who talk to you about the incident. A haunted house employee may even serve as a valuable witness.
- Take your child to a medical provider. Tell the physician about the incident and keep all medical records associated with the injury. A swift evaluation can link the injury to the haunted house and serve as a basis for your personal injury claim.
Most reputable haunted houses carry liability insurance to cover premises liability claims that arise onsite. Before you speak to an adjustor, accept a settlement, or let the case go, speak to an attorney. Your child deserves justice in incidents that involve haunted house negligence or malicious conduct, and taking action can prevent similar incidents in the future.