Touring a haunted house attraction is supposed to be scary. If you rub shoulders with the Grim Reaper, you can count that as having a good time. But the dangers aren’t supposed to be real. If they are, and if someone gets injured, the haunted house may face real legal liability.In 2014, a woman was severely injured while attending the Erebus Haunted House in Pontiac, Michigan after a moving wall caused her to slip and fall. She sustain multiple fractures as well as other injuries.
Ms. Turner’s lawsuit alleged that she was knocked down in an area with inadequate lighting. Mr. Terebus, owner of the Erebus Haunted House, has only commented that the operation is safe and that it has been in operation for a long time. This month, the case settled for $125,000.
What About That Disclaimer on the Back of the Ticket?
A quick check on the Erebus Haunted House website shows that the company does not require attendees to sign a release, but rather places a disclaimer and release on the back of every ticket, and has warning signs as people enter. However, general releases and disclaimers can only protect against so much. In Ms. Turner’s case, Erebus clearly did not feel confident that the release would protect them, and thus settled the case.
If you plan on attending a haunted attraction this Halloween season, be mindful that general releases and disclaimers can preclude a lawsuit or claim if you are injured. Depending on your state’s laws and the specifics of the situation, you may still have a legal claim.
How to Avoid Halloween-Related Injuries
On Halloween, it’s possible to have fun and be safe at the same time. Being safe is easier than you might think. The basics of Halloween safety involve knowing your surroundings and knowing your costume. For example:
If you plan on walking through neighborhoods or inadequately lit haunted houses, wear sneakers instead of high heels.
If you’re going to be crossing streets with traffic, don’t wear all black without adding some reflective materials or lights.
If you’ll be around open flames (like the candles in a Jack-O-Lantern) or you’re a smoker, don’t wear a flammable beard or sheep costume made out of cotton balls.
If you’re going trick-or-treating, inspect your candy before opening and eating it. If a wrapper looks tampered with, just throw it away.
Have fun this Halloween, and above all, be safe out there! If you were injured at a Halloween attraction, you should contact an injury lawyer to discuss whether you have case or not.