Halloween is here again, bringing pumpkins, mini-sized candy bars, monster-movie fests, and—naturally—haunted houses. That last ingredient to all the Halloween fun is also the cause of some Halloween lawsuits every year when patrons get something more than they expected. If you're thinking about suing a haunted house or another haunted exhibit, like a barn, abandoned prison, or hayride, this is what you should know in advance.
How much risk of injury did you voluntarily assume?
One of the problems with filing a lawsuit against a haunted house or other scary Halloween attraction is that you are essentially alleging that the proprietors did their job exactly like they were supposed to do—you paid them to scare you and they did it.
The odds are also very good that any haunted or scary attraction has warning signs all over the place telling people that they intend to scare them. There may even be additional warnings on you ticket stubs. Some horror-themed attractions even offer safe-words that will allow people to cut their experience short if it turns out to be more than they can handle.
If the defendant is able to show that you were given adequate warnings and you still voluntarily assumed the risk that you'd end up feeling traumatized, that's a valid defense to a lawsuit. Since many haunted horrors that pop up for the season actually boast of their traumatic nature, that's a difficult defense to overcome.
Did something happen that took the experience further than the warnings indicated?
However, if something happened that goes well beyond what you were led to expect, you may still have a lawsuit despite any warnings or disclaimers. For example, a woman and several minor children were essentially assaulted outside the ticket window of an Illinois haunted house by clowns wielding sex toys, simulating sexual acts, and yelling sexually-based comments at them. They never even made it inside the haunted house. Something like that could result in a viable lawsuit because the employer of those clowns is responsible for the actions they take while supposedly trying to drum up business for the attraction.
Did your injury have more to do with a safety issue than a scare?
This is often what causes lawsuits against Halloween haunted houses and other attractions to ultimately succeed or fail. The proprietor of a place has a responsibility under premise liability laws to make sure that the establishment is reasonably safe for patrons.
For example, a Michigan woman just settled a lawsuit against the Erebus Haunted Attraction for $125,000. She alleged that a moving wall in a poorly lit area knocked her down and she suffered a leg fracture, a back injury, and some additional problems as a result.
If you get injured in a Halloween haunted house or other horror attraction, don't assume that you don't have a valid case simply because you were warned that you might be scared. If there were other issues involved, like an employee who crossed the line or a failure to keep the attraction safe for the number of visitors it receives, you may still have a valid case. Talk to an accident attorney in your area for more information.
If you are unable to work because of an illness or injury, you may qualify for social security disability payments. This money comes from a fund you have probably contributed to during your time in the work force, and it is likely that you have the right to disability payments using this money. As an attorney specializing in social security disability, I have a great deal of experience in helping clients determine if they qualify for disability payments. I hope that this blog will help people who have been injured understand what it means to qualify for social security disability benefits and how to go about getting that help.