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Haunted Houses & Premises Liability Lawsuits

The Haunted House Association estimates that more than 2,000 haunted attractions operate in the U.S. each year. Since only a week has passed since Halloween, we ask this question, “If you sustain an injury inside of a haunted house, can the haunted house be held liable?” Our answer is “Most likely no, but it depends.”

Case Filed by Father of Girl Who Tripped in Haunted House Dismissed

This year, a case was dismissed that stems back from 2011. A father claimed that his daughter was injured after “being chased by a haunted house actor wielding a motor driven chainsaw in a dimly lit area, containing trip hazards and distracting strobe lights.” The court said that the plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risks of the haunted house and understood the inherent danger. The court also said that the “conduct causing injuries must be deliberate and intentional and must be based on a course of action in order to be considered willful and wanton.”

Case Filed by Woman Who Broke Her Leg in a Haunted Maze Dismissed

In another case, a plaintiff met with a figure dressed as Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th” while walking through a corn maze. “Jason” wielded a running chainsaw over his head and when the plaintiff attempted to run away, she fell and broke her leg. The court found that “the plaintiff had paid to be frightened and that the maze’s [muddy] condition was obvious.” The case was dismissed.

Case Filed by Woman Who Broke Her Nose in a Haunted House Dismissed

In another case, a woman broke her nose after an employee at a haunted house jumped out at her and she ran into a cinderblock covered with fabric. The court found that the haunted house had no duty to protect the plaintiff from “reacting in a bizarre, frightened and unpredictable way.”

What kind of duty does a haunted house owe you?

The duty owed to haunted house patrons is different because courts recognize that they exist to scare people and are supposed to propose an environment towards that end (i.e., limited lighting and scary surprises are warranted in these circumstances). In the case of the Louisiana Court of Appeal, in each lawsuit naming a haunted house as the defendant, the court ruled in favor of the haunted house.

Precautions Haunted Houses Can Take

Often times a haunted house will post warnings such as “There is usage of strobe lights, fog machines, dimmed and dark areas- if you highly dislike these, please don’t attend,” “The hallways are small, if you have claustrophobia, do not attend,” “Recommended for ages _____ and older,” or “If you become too frightened and can’t continue on the tour, please come back to the entrance.” Sometimes a haunted house will even supply you with a code word you can say in order to get out of the haunted house safely. Most of the time, a haunted house will have you sign a waiver form, so that you cannot hold them liable, in the event that you are injured.

Nonetheless, haunted houses still need to adhere to safety codes and ensure their employees are following the rules. If you were injured in a haunted house this Halloween, it is advised you speak with a personal injury attorney immediately so he/she can examine the details surrounding your case and see if you have a valid claim.

As we look ahead to next year’s Halloween and the opening of many more haunted houses plunged in darkness and filled with monsters and bloody skeletons, the best piece of advice we can offer you is if you don’t think you can handle it, don’t go into one. If you are injured and file a lawsuit, you will most likely waste precious time and money. The courts’ inclinations these days have rendered haunted house litigation— dead.

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