Daniel T. Goodwin Law
Ghosts on Trial: Haunted House Lawsuits
When your haunted house visit leaves you with more than just nightmares.
Now that it’s October, signs of fall are popping up all over Denver. Leaves are changing, pumpkins are popping up on front porches, and advertisements for haunted houses are appearing.If you’re one of many haunted house patrons, you may love the fear and suspense that comes from these attractions. But not everyone leaves haunted houses unafflicted. If you come away feeling harmed, don’t blame the ghosts, clowns, and zombies, accordingly to recent court decisions.
In a recent lawsuit, an adult became frightened while visiting a local haunted house and attempted to flee the house to get away from a saw-wielding employee. During his attempted escape, he fell and injured his arm. The man then sued the haunted house. The lawsuit was eventually thrown out of court with the judge noting that “the point of the [haunted house] is to scare people.”
In another lawsuit, an adult sued a haunted house for emotional distress after seeing what she described as excessively gory and frightening scenes during the tour.
Being frightened is an inherent risk, and often the whole point, of visiting a haunted house. When a customer visits an attraction and becomes injured, either physically or emotionally, due to an inherent risk, it is difficult to recover damages. It is only when the haunted house unreasonably increases the normal inherent risks of a haunted house that they can become responsible for injuries. For example, if a large quantity of fake blood on the floor caused slippery conditions that led to a slip-and-fall injury, this may be actionable. However, simply the fright caused by such a scene would be considered an inherent risk.
If you venture out into one of Denver’s many frightening haunted houses this October, make sure you know what you’re signing up for.