skeletons in haunted house attraction

Believe it or not, one of the more difficult cases you can have in personal injury law involves injuries in haunted houses. If you’ve sustained an injury in a haunted house, you still have a chance to get compensation. Read on to learn how a Rockland County premises liability lawyer can help you today.

How Difficult Is It to Get Compensation in a Haunted House Injury Case?

You’ve already been dealt a tough hand if you sustained an injury in a haunted house. This is because of a legal doctrine called assumption of risk. Assumption of risk states that an individual cannot recover damages for an injury when they choose to expose themselves to a known danger.

Many plaintiffs over the years have unsuccessfully sought compensation for personal injuries in haunted houses. In the 1996 Mays v. Gretna Athletic Boosters, for example, a 10-year-old girl visiting a haunted house suffered facial injuries after one of the characters scared her, and she ran into a cinder block wall covered with Visqueen. In Gallan v. Covenant House New Orleans (1997), the plaintiff was exiting a haunted house when a character dressed as Jason scared her by starting up a chainsaw. Both cases argued that the haunted houses created unreasonable risk, and in both cases, the argument was rejected.

So what’s going on in haunted houses to make getting compensation such a steep hill for plaintiffs to climb? It may be an interesting interaction between the doctrine of assumption of risk as well as haunted houses’ use of liability waivers. Visitors to haunted houses assume several risks and accept more by signing liability waivers. Between these two, haunted houses have a potent set of legal weapons in their defense.

How the Gross Negligence Doctrine Can Help Your Case

But liability waivers don’t sign away all your rights. For example, if your injury is the result of gross negligence, you may have a chance.

What is gross negligence? As you might guess from the tenor of this article, gross negligence is something typically very hard—but not impossible—to prove. Gross negligence goes beyond the amount of indifference seen in most successful personal injury cases. In New York, it means “reckless indifference,” where you don’t show “even slight care,” where you “completely disregard” the safety of people around you.

By definition, gross negligence is a comparatively rare kind of negligence, or we should hope. Examples include a drunk driver speeding well over the limit and crashing into a bus full of preschoolers, or a nursing home staff leaving a bedridden patient without water such that the patient dies of dehydration.

There are likely other routes to success, but gross negligence allows one way around haunted houses’ one-two-punch of assumption of risk and waivers.

What are some examples of the kind of mistakes a haunted house would have to make for the plaintiff to be successful? In 2016, a woman won $125,000 in a personal injury lawsuit where a defective prop injured her. In 2021, an actor at a haunted house accidentally cut an 11-year-old child when he brought a real knife, not a prop, from his home. Here the parents did not file a lawsuit, but the actor was ultimately fired from the haunted house and charged with negligent assault.

Talk to a Premises Liability Lawyer Today

As we can see, being injured in a haunted house implies a big challenge in getting compensation. But we also see that it can and has been done. Please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will fight for your compensation.