Summer may be barely over, but haunted house attractions are already beginning to open across New York. Part of the fun and excitement of visiting a haunted house or other scary Halloween adventure site is not knowing what to expect from one moment to the next.
It’s not uncommon for people to get so frightened that they fall or run into walls or the occasional ghoul or undead thing. However, the businesses that run haunted houses, scare mazes and similar attractions still have a responsibility to provide their visitors with an environment free of unnecessary hazards.
Why do plaintiffs rarely prevail?
Whether or not you can successfully hold one of these businesses responsible for injuries largely depends on what kind of injury it is and how it was suffered. However, courts have largely ruled against plaintiffs who were injured in attractions designed to provide a scary experience. People who choose to go to these venues basically acknowledge by doing so that they’re looking for excitement and adventure.
Further, visitors are typically required to sign or agree to some kind of waiver of liability for the owner of the venue. This might be printed on the ticket, or it could be an electronic waiver that you have to click before buying an online ticket that protects them from liability.
However, one law professor notes that if they are sued, a venue owner would need to prove that visitors were allowed to get a refund if they didn’t agree to the terms of entering the Halloween venue that included the waiver or liability. They might also need to prove that guests had a reasonable opportunity to read the waiver.
What kind of dangers are unacceptable?
Some plaintiffs have prevailed, including a woman who said that lack of lighting coupled with a moving wall caused her to fall and seriously injure herself. There are things no one should reasonably expect from a haunted adventure, such as a hole in the floor or an attack by an employee who gets a little too much into character.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a haunted house or other scary Halloween venue and you believe you have a case, it’s wise to seek legal guidance.