Haunted House Risks: Common Injuries and What Operators Can (and Should) Do To Prevent Them

Sep 30, 2022 - Personal Injury

Haunted houses are a staple of the Halloween season. From local communities to amusement parks, numerous haunted houses pop up across Pennsylvania this time each year.

Unfortunately, while haunted houses can be fun, they can also be dangerous. In fact, haunted houses can present several safety risks if they are not designed, maintained and monitored appropriately. As a result, haunted house injuries are fairly common, with visitors suffering injuries ranging from concussions to broken bones.

Common Causes of Haunted House Injuries

Why are haunted house injuries so common? The short answer is that several issues can lead to accidents and injuries. For example, some of the most common causes of injuries at haunted houses in Pennsylvania include:

  • Slip and Trip Hazards – Puddles, broken floorboards, slippery tiles, tree roots, and various other slip and trip hazards in and around haunted houses can cause falls resulting in serious injuries. Some of the most common haunted house injuries include hip, ankle and wrist injuries caused by falls.
  • Collision Hazards – In dark haunted houses, objects such as doors, walls and other hazards obscured by the dark can present risks for unexpected collisions and resulting injuries.
  • Exposed Nails and Other Protrusions – Along with collision hazards such as doors and walls, exposed nails and other protrusions also present risks for haunted house injuries. These can also be especially dangerous in poorly lit areas.
  • Falling Objects – Props, decorations and other items falling from overhead can injure haunted house visitors. Common injuries from falling objects include concussions, severe cuts and bruises, and fall-related injuries when falling objects knock visitors to the ground.
  • Scare Tactics – While scare tactics are part of what make haunted houses fun, they are also part of what make haunted houses dangerous. When costumed employees, robotic monsters and zombies, and other moving objects and loud sounds scare visitors, this often leads to falls, collisions and other accidents.
  • Overcrowding and Trampling – Haunted houses in Pennsylvania are subject to occupancy limits. But, even if a haunted house operator complies with its occupancy limit, overcrowding and trampling in the event of an emergency are both very real risks. From actors springing out of coffins with chainsaws to gunshot sounds and screams pumped through loudspeakers, various scare tactics can lead to tramping in haunted houses as well.
  • Ride-Related Injuries – For haunted houses at fairs and amusement parks that have moving rides, these rides increase the risk of injury. Sudden stops and starts, squeezing too many riders into a single car, and various other issues can put riders in harm’s way.
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can build up in confined spaces such as haunted houses. Fumes from gas-fueled fires, heaters and other sources can create extremely dangerous and potentially fatal scenarios.
  • Flashing Lights – Flashing lights can impair haunted house visitors’ vision, and this can increase their risk of being injured in a fall, collision or other accident. For some visitors, flashing lights can also trigger seizures, which can also lead to falls and other incidents.
  • Fog Machines and Other Visual Impairments – Along with darkness and flashing lights, other visual impairments such as fog (from fog machines) can prevent visitors from seeing safety risks and cause them to suffer injuries due to falls, collisions and other accidents.

Some haunted houses have visitors sign waivers, or they may require visitors to agree to certain terms (whether they realize it or not) when they purchase their tickets. Haunted house operators may also claim that their visitors knowingly assumed the risk of an accident happening when they entered. While haunted house operators commonly assert these protections as defenses to liability, these protections don’t always apply. As we discuss below, there are several steps that haunted house operators can (and should) take to protect their customers, and there are several scenarios in which injured haunted house visitors can file claims for just compensation.

What Haunted House Operators Can (and Should) Do To Prevent Injuries

Given the numerous injury risks that haunted houses present, their operators must take appropriate steps to minimize the risk of visitors suffering serious harm. While haunted houses should be scary, they should not be dangerous. No one should really be at risk of being harmed. To prevent serious injuries, haunted house operators should take steps including (but not limited to):

  • Conducting routine maintenance and inspections to ensure that the haunted house is in a safe condition for visitors to enter
  • Training employees to be scary, but not too scary, and to know when enough is enough
  • Following occupancy limits and using timed entry, gates, counters and/or other mechanisms to prevent overcrowding
  • Posting a clear and conspicuous set of rules for visitors (i.e., rules that prohibit running, pushing and entering unauthorized areas)
  • Having a set of protocols for responding to accidents so that injured visitors are able to receive necessary medical treatment as soon as possible

Do You Have a Haunted House Lawsuit?

If you are injured at a haunted house during the Halloween season, should you file a haunted house lawsuit? As with all types of accidents, the answer depends on the specific circumstances involved. If you got drunk and did something you shouldn’t have, then you may not have a claim. However, if you followed the rules, did your best to look out for your own safety, and still got injured at a haunted house, then you may be entitled to just compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.

To find out if you have a haunted house lawsuit, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer will be able to assess your legal rights and seek just compensation on your behalf if you have a claim.

Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Pennsylvania

If you are suffering from an injury you suffered at a haunted house in Easton, Stroudsburg, Doylestown, Bethlehem or Allentown, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. Call 888-777-7098 or tell us about your case online to speak with a lawyer in confidence.

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Posted By: Ricardo Yepez

Drake, Hileman & Davis

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